PA, Attracting Students From Overseas Since 1758

Over the past two centuries, the growing presence of international students has fulfilled Andover’s recruitment goal of “youth from every quarter.” With the first international student entering the Academy about three centuries ago, the representation of foreign countries among students has grown to 10% of the student body and more than 100 students from overseas have enrolled at the school each year. Currently, 99 international students, representing 26 countries, are enrolled at the Academy. According to, PA receives 425 applications from international students each year; however, it accepts between 30 to 50 each year. Andover’s legacy of international students began in 1785, when a ten-year-old Jamaican boy immigrated to the United States and studied at Phillips Academy. Another famous international alumnus is Joseph Hardy Neesima. Mr. Neesima was a Japanese man who secretly stowed away on a ship to the United States and studied at Andover, graduating in 1867. Mr. Neesima later returned to Japan and founded Doshisha University, the largest private university in Japan. International enrollment experienced a boom during the early twentieth century, with the encouragement of Chinese ambassador to the U.S, Chentung Liang Chang who graduated in 1882 from PA. After the 1930’s, international student programs continued relatively unsupported. During that period, PA had no scholarship opportunities for foreign students. In 1972, under the direction of Head of School Ted Sizer, the Kemper Scholars program was founded. This program changed the face of outreach for international students from Phillips Academy. This program, similar to the School Year Abroad (SYA) program founded by former Head of School John Kemper, offered qualified European students the opportunity to attend PA for a year. The program enrolled its first scholar in 1976. Since then, students from all over the world have attended the Academy. PA receives 30 to 40 applications from these countries each year, with around five to six students accepted for their Senior year. Phillips Academy broke ground in its opportunities for international students in 1980 when became the first American school ever to participate in an exchange program with China. The school established an agreement to switch a group of students and teachers in 1980. In 1986, Head of School Donald McNemar reached an accord with the Chief of Foreign Relations for the Soviet Ministry of Education to provide an exchange program with the Novosibirsk Physics-Mathematics School in Siberia. The opportunity was the first of its kind between the United States and the USSR. Thailand is one nation that currently maintains a connection with PA, providing a consistent annual program for two students, usually a boy and a girl, to attend as one-year Seniors. PA has also had other international exchange opportunities, including a program that brought South Africans to Andover for their Senior years, and a program that brought students in from Senegal. Some international students find difficulty with application process. Problems can arise as a result of having to travel long distances for required alumni interviews or having to complete all required paperwork and payments. All international applicants must announce an intention to graduate from PA and attend college. “For all international students applying, we require total proficiency in English — we do not offer any ESL programs. That’s probably the biggest hurdle for international students,” said Deborah Murphy, Senior Associate Dean of Admissions. Although the Admissions office has only recently started taking active international recruitment trips, alumni overseas have informed prospective students about their own experiences at the Academy and encouraging them to apply. The significant alumni base extending across the globe has served as the greatest recruitment tool for international students. Mrs. Murphy said, “We haven’t had to travel internationally in order to get applications from all over the world. It is not as if we are neglecting the international pool or taking it for granted. We are simply fortunate to have an international reputation and alumni around the world who promote the school.” Andover has enrolled many students every year from Canada and several Asian nations like China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. A few students are enrolled every year from less represented nations, including Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Laos, and Madagascar.