‘From Andover to Harvard’ Raises Concerns of School’s Image in China

Books about elite American universities have become bestsellers in China, and with a new book featuring Phillips Academy, one Andover parent hopes to introduce American prep schools to the phenomenon. Shannon Yin, mother of Phillips Academy graduate Henry Yin ’07, recently released a book in her homeland of China describing her son’s education in America, particularly at Andover. The book, titled “From Andover to Harvard,” highlights Yin’s educational journey as a Chinese international student in the United States. “From Andover to Harvard” is currently only available in China and therefore no Andover administrators or faculty members have read the book. Despite the publicity Andover will receive with the book’s release, some Andover administrators are concerned that the book’s title will give some readers the impression that Andover is a “stepping stone” to elite U.S. colleges. “There are concerns with the title and whether it will lead some to think that Andover leads to Harvard, but that’s the title. We don’t know what’s actually in that book,” said Jane Fried, Dean of Admission. Yin said the writing was not intended to portray Andover as a vehicle to elite universities. “From the title, I can see how one would think that,” said Yin. “However, about 80 percent of the book is on Andover and its opportunities. I think a typical Chinese student would recognize that some go to Harvard, but the school is not a stepping stone.” “The book was to be about American high schools, not how to get to elite American colleges through high schools,” continued Yin. Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, said, “The book meets the needs of a market, and parents like [Shannon] have high aspirations for their kids. I think most people in the states are familiar with colleges and realize they can’t count on getting into a particular school.” According to Yin, his mother wrote the book to “let more Chinese students know about educational opportunities available in U.S. private high schools.” “Chinese high schools are very rigorous and do not offer as flexible a curriculum as Andover’s, where there is lots of academic leeway,” said Yin. Andover’s international students come with a variety of perceptions about Phillips Academy and aspirations for their future. “It’s hard to make vast, sweeping comments about any student group in our community. Andover is a self-selected collection of individuals, and education is a focus no matter who you are,” said Aya Murata, Advisor to Asian and Asian-American Students. “College, perhaps an Ivy, was a big reason for coming to the United States,” said Chinese international student Mary Wu ’10. Murata said, “Whether Asian or not, any family with kids at Andover has big aspirations for their child. But Ivy League schools are not the focus of PA, and although this school may open doors, it is the child that needs to be motivated to propel themselves through those doors.”