Andover Admissions Reports Increase In PA Applications

Early statistics from the Admissions Office indicate that interest in Phillips Academy and its peer schools has risen this year after dipping slightly last year. The number of inquiries and preliminary applications grew 22 percent and 3 percent, respectively, Jane Fried, dean of Admission, said. Admissions officers were surprised by the large rise in the number of inquiries. Until late October, the number of inquiries was below last year’s, leading many of the admissions staff to believe the total number of applications would follow the downward trend that began last year. Instead, at least at this point in the application process, Andover’s numbers are increasing. Ms. Fried said, “Each school needs its own strategy [to promote interest among prospective applicants.]” She attributes this year’s upturn at Andover to the school’s popularity, the work of search organizations that seek out good candidates, and the heavy footwork of the admissions staff. “We did a lot of new travel this year,” she said. Other schools, including Choate Rosemary Hall and Loomis-Chaffe are also reporting an upward trend in the number of inquiries, interviews, and preliminary applications. William Dennet, director of Admission at Choate Rosemary Hall, reported that Choate saw a five percent rise in preliminary applications this year. “We have a healthy respect for how outside factors can affect decisions to apply,” Dennet said. “[In terms of the number of applicants,] I don’t think that schools like Andover and Choate have anything to worry about.” Thomas Southworth, director of Admission at Loomis-Chaffee, reported that inquiries to Loomis rose 13.5 percent this year, and interviews went up 10 percent. Not every independent school has seen an increase in applications. “Many independent kindergarten-through-eighth grade schools are really struggling at this point,” said Ms. Fried. “Some in the Boston area have seen a 35-40 percent decrease in applications over the past two years.” Ms. Fried cited economic and demographic reasons. “Although the stock market is up, other economic indices are struggling, and that makes it difficult for middle and upper-middle income families to think about tuition,” she said. However, Andover admissions staff has been working hard to combat the economic downturn by promoting interest in the school throughout the world. Ms. Fried recently returned from a trip to Asia on which she tried to encourage interest in Andover. She and other members of the admissions staff have also visited Canada, Oklahoma, and Oregon to promote interest in the school. The Office of Admissions also worked with search organizations “to identify strong students who might have an interest in Andover,” said Ms. Fried. These programs also provided a geographically diverse list of students from regions that are not well represented in the current student body. Ms. Fried said, “Andover is so well- known and attracts a lot of candidates, our admissions counselors spend a good deal of time counseling candidates to apply broadly in order to ensure that they have options for September.” Andover’s Admissions Office also runs workshops for directors of admission at other schools, helping them to forecast the trends in admission and make decisions that will benefit their schools. The workshops focus on what Ms. Fried called “casting the net.” “The net must be broad,” she said, “but it must also pull in the right kind of catch.