Words of Wisdom To New Students

Alas, gone are the wonderful perks of the summer. Gone are summer activities like waking up late and watching excessive amounts of television. No more summer nonsense now: school has begun. It’s time for us to begin to stress ourselves with the academic, social, and athletic commitments that shall become our lives during this nascent academic year. Judging from my experiences as a new student last year, this sudden and drastic change of pace will most likely take new students by surprise, leaving them in a state of over-stimulation that may result in a slew of bad decisions. Attempting to minimize the number of said bad decisions, I have written this to serve as advice for those new students (ninth graders in particular), who are particularly susceptible to making poor judgments. This is not to say that returning students don’t make mistakes. However, the mistakes made by the retuning student are of a somewhat different nature. To begin with, and perhaps too late to give you this bit, but here it goes: get your books EARLY. Unless you like waiting in a line for hours at a time and being scolded for blocking the entrance to the adjacent shopping center, purchase your books as soon as possible. If you have a scheduling conflict, resolve it immediately. It becomes increasingly difficult to change classes as time progresses. Get on the good side of our Registrar, your adviser, and heads of departments. And remember, indecision is deadly. You could severely hinder your chances of getting into a higher-level class later in your PA career if you don’t make important decisions now. DON’T WALK ON THE GRASS! This applies more during fall term than spring (for some reason they’re more lax later in the year). Faculty members love to scold students for walking on the grass. Unless you want to be scolded, use the paths. There are three (yes, three) different types of recycling bins in the dorms. Do not shove a bottle into the can recycling bin. Do not put paper in the bottle recycling bin. Pizza is not paper. You may well end up cleaning up the mess you make in the recycling bins. Believe me, it’s nasty. Be wary of the Commons toasters: they catch on fire easily. If you put something in the toaster and it still has not come out five minutes later, seek help. It takes very little time for an innocent-looking piece of bread to burst into flames. This can be particularly humiliating, especially during peak hours at Commons, when everyone in a particular dining hall is made aware of the conflagration by the acrid smell of the smoke it produces. The same goes for the microwave. Know your PA jargon. There are lots of terms and names that you probably never heard before you came to Andover. First, there’s the whole Junior, Lower, Upper, Senior thing going on. That can cause a few weeks of confusion. Then there are terms like “parietal” and “DC.” Also, know the names of things like buildings and meaningless administrative “committees.” (Namely, the “Pace of Life Committee.”) I know it’s hard, but try to comprehend the “class meeting schedule” as quickly as possible. I have no idea how the new schedule will look, but the old diagram induced nausea with all of the confusingly arranged bright colors. Also, Saturday classes seem and feel meaningless. They are. Don’t worry yourself over them. No one knows why they’re there, but they are. Just deal with it. Complaining won’t help. We all know and understand your pain. We agree with you. Complaining is not necessary. Don’t amass too many cuts. You have four for free. Use them wisely. Also, be aware that most teachers will give you a “personal time” if you ask them 24 hours in advance; that is, you can skip the class without “earning” a cut. Furthermore, when you hear the tolling of a church bell, hasten to the chapel: it’s an All-School Meeting. Missing an ASM in is an easy way to get a cut. And don’t get caught sleeping during it, either. With proper adherence to certain rules, both written and unwritten, you can achieve success in your personal journey through Andover. It will be hard. It will be fun. Hopefully, you will acclimate to the bubble of stress that is Phillips Academy.