Andover Arrogance

Coming to Andover is an experience unlike most others. When freshman enter this prestigious boarding school, many are awed at the span of our campus, the depth of our courses, and the overall intensity of life here. They feel overwhelmed and cowed when they start the Andover experience. But as the year wears on and students become accustomed to the dances every weekend and the mass of extracurricular activities offered, this awe is lost. We enter what is commonly known as the Andover bubble, convincing ourselves that what we have here is normal. Then, in the third stage of Andover life, students begin to open up to the mass of influences pouring in during any given day of Andover life. And we hear that we are superior over all other schools, that we dominate in Physics, Debate and other liberal arts, or that we have the highest percentage accepted into the Ivies of any school in the world. And most importantly, this all happens without effort. Whether or not Andover breeds arrogance is a question. But whether or not there is academic elitism here is a fact. We, as students that attend Phillips Academy Andover, find ourselves in a social situation where we are constantly told the extent of our superiority over every other school. In this way we become the next generation of Andover Alumi. This level of academic elitism naturally leads to arrogance in which we look down upon other boarding schools – even our sister school Exeter. We truly believe that we are better than them because of the way our lives are. Our academic achievements are similar to those of our peers at Exeter. The difference is that Exeter students spend much more time laboring over their schoolwork than we do. Andover students are capable of producing high quality work with less effort. We believe we do it through natural talent of mind and body. However, more important than all this is how this mentality influences the greater world. But first of all, it must be stated that this article does not argue the virtues of learning found at Andover. Without a doubt, this type of schooling prepares us more rigorously for college than almost all other schools. The basic requirements of Andover’s program already delve into college freshman courses and Andover lifestyle crudely imitates college life. But the way we think when we leave here is more important. Look at the simultaneously best and worst example of Andover schooling: George W. Bush. Arguing this point would take several more pages of text, but the main idea is that feeding the social elites of America ideas of their superiority over everyone else only breeds more arrogance and animosity. Glance outside the Andover bubble for just a moment, and you’ll see how our behavior not just as Phillips students, but as Americans, has propagated the common view of the arrogant dumb American everywhere internationally. Maybe it is time that we reconsider our behavior.