Our Changing Identity

How diverse is Andover, really? We presume that Andover is no longer the rich, white, Northeastern “prep” school that it once was, and we only need to look to our diversity to prove it. We also presume that, given this change, we are prepared to approach a century of outstanding diversity. But Andover is less diverse than we realize, and we may be in for a rude awakening. Andover is still a school of mostly well-off Northeasterners. It is true that racial diversity is well-represented. In fact, it is better represented than diversity in geography. But the fact is that geographic and economic homogeneity is still common. The majority of students still come from just a few states. In fact, nearly 42 percent of Andover’s student body hails from Massachusetts alone, and 55 percent comes from Massachusetts, New York or Connecticut. In a country of an estimated 305 million people, 60 percent of Andover’s American students are drawn from states whose populations represent only 9.6 percent of the country’s total population. This is most notably the result of our sizable day-student population, which combined with local boarders, gives Andover a distinctly New England character. Economic diversity is also lacking, relatively speaking. Nearly 59 percent of students pay full tuition – $37,200 per year for boarders and $29,000 per year for day students – in a country whose median annual household income in 2006 was $48,201, according to US Census Bureau. At the median annual income most families would be likely to receive full scholarship. In fact, Exeter provides full aid to any student whose family has a yearly income of $75,000 or less. Although Andover does not have an income threshold, some students whose families earn more than Exeter’s threshold could receive full aid. However, only 10 percent of the student body is on full scholarship, indicating that the majority of students on scholarship come from families whose household income is in or close to the top quintile of American earners (never mind that America is one of the richest countries in the world). Andover’s geographic and economic homogeneity have contributed to the character of the school, whether we realize it or not. But as Andover pursues “youth from every quarter” and sets trailblazing financial aid policies, this character is likely to change. We should be prepared for this change, not caught off-guard. We should realize that we are in fact not the oft-repeated “best and brightest.” We are substantially diverse, very hard-working and extremely intelligent, but the future of our community still holds bold possibilities. It is a future we can be proud of. This editorial represent the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board.