State of the Academy Survey

Good news for the Office of Academy Resources: Nearly 90 percent of Phillips Academy Seniors plan to donate money to Andover after their graduation, according to the 2004 Phillipian State of the Academy Survey. The 189 responses of both day students and boarders were collected over the past week. The sample represents 17.5 percent of the student body. Though a small sample, the survey provides an interesting glimpse at student perception of campus issues such as fairness in the Disciplinary Committee system, Graham House, and which dining hall in Commons boasts the highest student GPA. Some finds: The majority of respondents believe that the school discourages students from having sex on campus, whether through Blue Book stipulations or programs like the Date-Rape Intervention, which is attended by Uppers. Twenty-one percent of respondents reported having sex on campus. The use of marijuana and caffeine pills ran highest in the Senior class, with 29 percent and 38 percent reporting use on campus, respectively. However, of the 38 percent of respondents who report having consumed alcohol on campus, the most students per grade was in the Class of 2005. The alcohol statistics point to an interesting trend in this year’s State of the Academy. Generally, the Upper class appears to have taken the most extreme views and actions of all the classes. Almost 10 percent more Uppers than Seniors who were surveyed reported feeling that the DC system is unfair. The Class of 2005 also led the school in the belief of a rift between the administration and students. They also reported the greatest number of students having sex on campus than any other class. At the same time, Uppers who responded reported the second lowest average GPA – just ahead of the Junior class. Senior respondents reported the highest GPA of any class with a 4.69. Of those respondents who said they have been on the “Top 10 List” for Bandwidth Usage, 70 percent report viewing pornography on a computer on campus. Though campus sentiment on some issues was unanimous, the responses to many questions show discrepancies between the opinions of students from different grades. While 77 percent of the respondents from the Junior class said that the DC system is fair, only 40 percent of respondents from the Class of 2005 shared the same belief. Responding to the wide gap in responses, Dean of Students Marlys Edwards said, “Most students are not involved with the DC system so they don’t really know how the system works.” Responses also varied on the issue of college admissions. Eighty-five percent of the Juniors who took the survey believe that attending Phillips Academy will help their chances of getting into a good college. Forty-eight percent of Seniors surveyed said that their time on Academy Hill will hurt their chances at gaining admission to a selective university, a much higher percentage than last year. “We would never want a student to think that being here would affect his or her chances of admission,” said College Counseling Director John Anderson. “What matters is taking advantage of the opportunities and resources here. That is where students need to focus their attention,” he said. Seventy-nine percent of respondents from the Class of 2004 are satisfied with Andover’s College Counseling Office. “On one hand, if 80 percent of high school Seniors are satisfied with any component of their school, you’re doing well,” Mr. Anderson said. “On the other hand, “I would like to see every student satisfied.” Students also split along grade lines on whether there is a rift between the administration and the student body. Forty-six percent of Juniors who responded think there is a lack of communication, in contrast to 83 percent of Uppers. “[The rift] is difficult to define,” Ms. Edwards said. “There is administration and there is faculty. There is not a clear division…What’s the rift and with whom?…It’s such an anomalous group.” Approximately 65 percent of respondents in the Lower, Upper, and Senior classes believe that the new daily schedule implemented this year hurts their pace of life. “I have heard students say that they have not yet learned how to use their extra time on Tuesday and Wednesdays to prepare for what everyone says is a difficult day on Friday,” Ms. Edwards said. “Every schedule has its positives and negatives.” Psychological Services Director Carol Israel said that the usage statistics for Graham House have not changed since last year, a fact that is in line with the results of the survey. Fourteen percent of male respondents and 21 percent of females said they have visited Graham House, and the majority said they were aware that the Academy’s psychological services are confidential. Though 59 percent of respondents said they would not send a friend to Graham House if he or she were depressed, Dr. Israel said, “We continue to do whatever we can to make Graham House a welcoming place so kids will have confidence in ours services.” She continued, “I hope people feel comfortable bringing their friends [to Graham House] if they are in trouble.” Eight percent of male respondents and 14 percent of females reported that they have suffered from an eating disorder while in high school. “PA has not seen much evidence of eating disorders in males, so that number surprises me,” Dr. Israel said. “That many girls do exhibit eating disorder behavior but not clinical disorders, in fact, that is probably an underestimate of girls with an eating disordered mindset,” she said. Upper Left proved to be the “smartest” dining hall in Commons this year, with an average GPA of 4.8. Respondents who dine regularly in Lower Right turned the lowest GPA of 4.3.