Blue Keys Welcome 343 New Students to Phillips

Spirited Blue Keys screamed, music blasted, and horns blared in response to the “Honk if you love Andover” signs as new students were treated to a traditional Andover welcome on Saturday. 343 students, selected from the largest applicant pool in nearly 20 years, arrived at Andover from 34 states and 16 foreign countries on Saturday. This year, Dean of Students and Residential Life Marlys Edwards and Dean of Admission Jane Fried decided to add two new events to orientation and condense all activities into one weekend. In the past, orientation has continued on the following Sunday. Director of Student Activities Cindy Efinger said, “We just thought that kids would be a little happier if they didn’t have to get up [again next] Sunday.” New additions to Orientation Weekend took place on Saturday. The biggest change was a meeting in the library between house counselors or day student advisors, parents and new students. The goal of this meeting was to foster communication early on in the Andover experience, in order to clarify the roles of day student advisors and house counselors. An interfaith leave-taking service was also offered this year to new students and parents. The service took a spiritual approach to easing the emotional weight of saying goodbye. Tried-and-true activities that upperclassmen remember from their first days at school took place as well. Following a speech from Head of School Barbara Landis Chase, new students dashed across the lawn after the Blue Keys to learn Andover cheers. The new students then broke into small groups and began getting to know one another with the help of an assigned Blue Key. On Sunday, students attended meetings in CAMD and informational sessions on technology and Community Service programs at Andover. Blue Keys showed new students academic buildings as well as the Ryley Room, and showed them how to get meals in Commons. The new walking tour and basic demonstrations were designed to alleviate the fear of Ryley Room and walking through Commons that some new students have experienced in the past. Mrs. Efinger said before orientation, “We’re actually going to show them some very basic kind of things so that they feel more comfortable.” New students officially matriculated on Sunday evening. After lining up by the Armillary Sphere, students followed a bagpipe player across the Great Lawn to attend their matriculation ceremony. After a brief speech by Mrs. Chase, cluster deans passed certificates around circles of students Blue Keys took their groups of new students to buy books downtown and to see their classrooms on Monday. The rest of the day was free for students to acclimate themselves to the campus and dorm life. Blue Keys Heads arrived on campus to prepare for orientation last Thursday. All Blue Keys attended a meeting on Friday in Kemper and were given schedules and their signature brightly colored t-shirts to distinguish them from other students. Early Saturday morning, Blue Keys stationed themselves in dorms, at the Admissions Office, in the library, and on the corner of Salem Street and Main Street to welcome new students. This year’s new students came from one of the most competitive applicant pools in over a decade. The 2,354 completed applications represented a 5% increase since last year, and the largest number of applicants since 1987 as well as the largest number of applications received by any of Andover’s peer schools. 476 students, or 20% of applicants, were accepted. The admission rate decreased by 1% since last year, making Phillips Academy twice as competitive as it was 15 years ago when the admission rate was 40%. An impressive 72% matriculation rate highlighted the success of this year’s admission season. In addition to having the largest number of applicants, Andover had the highest matriculation rate of any of its peer schools. The Academy continues to strive for a need-blind admissions process, having increased the percentage of students who receive financial aid from 40% to 41% this year. Andover remains committed to its ultimate goal of achieving need-blind admission status. Senior Associate Dean of Admission and Acting Dean of Admission for 2006 Deborah Murphy wrote, “These students share their inspiring personal stories during the admission process and represent many cultures, traditions, points of view and talents. “Athletes, musicians, artists, community servants, writers and scientists…in the coming days we hope members of this community enjoy discovering these student’s stories as much as we did during the admission process.”