Palmer’s Guide to Life: A Phillips Academy Index

In the quest to promote happiness, a challenging concept to tackle, the Administration has been distributing surveys to better inform its decisions. I provide no ultimate answer to create complete happiness, but I can add to their quest for a solution by simplifying things a bit. To express concepts which are difficult to quantify and qualify, economists often create indices. For instance, the Misery Index (MI) measures the condition of the economy and consumer confidence by combining the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. I have formulated our very own Phillips Index (PI), which measures the variables of life here at Andover in an attempt to serves as a guideline to maximize happiness. Important phenomena contributing to happiness here at Andover are the following: sleep(s), grades(g), edible food(e), relaxation(x), health(h), resume for college(c), friends(f), parents(p), and romance(r). In all honesty, the only two factors that can be measured with true accuracy are grades, which should be inflated as much as possible, and health, which can be measured through trips to Isham. Of course, each category should have different values; most students value grades over relaxation and sleep. Social butterflies will value friends the highest, while resume-building students will assign their college application the highest value. Future Iron Chefs may assess the quality of food the most important variable, and concupiscent freshman may lust for romance above all. Your stereotypical momma’s boy will pick parents as the most important factor. Now that we have quantified the variables, we must qualify them. I have assembled an index for a hypothetical Andover student, whom we will dub Barry Don. Assigning them a coefficient of .75, Barry values grades above all else. Thus, food, less important to Barry, receives a coefficient of .5. Sleep, insignificant when compared to grades, will be ranked at .3. Barry’s social life, comprised of friends, parents, and romance, is ranked twice as much as sleep, .6. Thus, he assigns value of .3, .1, and .2 to each component respectively. Barry also happens to be a hypochondriac, and thus assigns health a value of .5. Barry, an ambitious student, finds that college resume is about three times as important as relaxation, ranking his resume at .6, and relaxation at .19. Barry’s scale, however, is unique to him. Each Andover student values each category differently, depending on his personality, motives, and character. Because Andover is such a diverse community, one universal equation for all students cannot exist. We are too different. Each student must decide for himself the value of his coefficients, the elements of his life. Every school rule reflects a weighting of variables; preparatory school is about preparing to face life’s obstacles, one of which is managing a hectic lifestyle. Ultimately, Andover, serving as an advisor, ought to allow each student to choose his own index through trial and error. We may generalize and stereotype all we like, but each student is unique in his choices, abilities, and values. Perhaps, too many students will try to assign too much to each value, creating a problem with Pace of Life. Nevertheless, the fact remains that no one else can decide for us what is most important in our lives, and that we will learn how to balance our schedules through trial and error. That being said, Barry is ready to compile his PI (Phillips Index), for Barry has determined what is most important to him in his life. .75g (Grades) + .5f (Food) + .3s (Sleep) + .3f (Friends) + .1p (Parents) +.2r (Romance) +.5h (Health) +.6c (College Resume) +.19x (Relaxation). Notice that if each variable is maximized at 1 or 100 percent, PI will then equal 3.14. That may have some truth to it, even if such an index is for only one student among many.