Examining Andover’s Off-Campus Programs: Andover Behind Peer Schools in Number of Programs Offered

In this case of the Andover/Exeter rivalry, Exeter wins. Andover provides fewer off-campus school year opportunities than Exeter and other peer boarding schools. Currently, Andover offers students the chance to spend fall term at the Oxbow School and to attend the School Year Abroad Program (SYA). But Exeter supports SYA, the Milton Mountain School, the Island School and the Washington Intern Program. Aside from SYA, Exeter students can also spend a term abroad in seven foreign countries, including France, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Ireland and England. Elizabeth Korn, Assistant Dean of Studies and Registrar, said “An individual student [at Andover] can choose to take off a year for a different program and that could be approved.” Korn said, “We have a number of students who take leaves [of absence] each year for a variety of reasons… In the category of those who are approved to take a leave in order to pursue an off-campus educational program other than Oxbow and SYA, the numbers are very low: I’d say one a year at most, and often there are no students in this category.” “With permission [from] the Dean of Studies and [if] planned well in advance, a person might be able to [study off-campus] for a year,” she said. Courses and credit would have to be planned out with John Rogers, Dean of Studies, or Korn. “If you do a year away, you still need to meet those requirements and be on campus senior year, except for SYA senior year,” said Korn. Korn said that there is not an urgent need for more off-campus programs right now. “We haven’t had people beating down our doors [for more off-campus programs,] she said. “And for that occasional student that doesn’t match up with Oxbow or SYA, we’ve been able to accommodate for the most part.” According to Catherine Carter, SYA Coordinator and Classics Instructor, five Andover students went on SYA this past year, seven in 2007 and six in 2006. Though admission decisions are not out yet, there were eight applicants this year. Korn said that Andover used to have a more extensive list of off-campus study options, which included the Washington Internship Program, the Maine Coast Semester, the Milton Mountain School and trips to the Ivory Coast in Africa. “At the time [that those programs] were phased out, they were individually serving one or two students, so there was not much of an uproar when we stopped offering them,” said Korn. She also offered an explanation as to why our school has fewer programs than other schools. “One of the problems [with some different off-campus programs] is logistics, because some of these programs work by semesters. Partial-year programs are difficult to manage,” she said. Andover works on trimesters, which, according to Korn, are hard to match up with the semester systems of some programs. “SYA is much easier for us to manage because it’s the entire year,” she said. Korn added that while the Oxbow program does work on semesters, its first semester aligns with PA’s fall term so it is possible for students to only miss one term. Exeter’s Dean of Academic Affairs Jane Cadwell, wrote in an email, “[The off-campus study options program at Exeter] has evolved over time. We’ve added [programs] along the years and many of them originate from student and faculty interest.” In order for a program to be approved at Exeter, it must be approved by a vote of the entire faculty. In addition, one faculty member must visit the site of the study program. Cadwell wrote, “For our own one term programs we usually have… twelve to fourteen students per program. The Island School Program usually has two to three students and Milton Mountain School roughly four to five per term. On average, I’d say we have around two to five students in each yearlong SYA program, depending on the country.” John Ford, Assistant Headmaster and Dean of Students at Choate Rosemary Hall, wrote in an email that Choate runs several of its own one-term off-campus programs in Spain, France, Italy and China. “Usually around 20 [students] each term [participate in the program], so since we have three terms about 60 students participate during the year; this does not include similar programs run in the summer,” Ford wrote. According to Ford, making up missed credits was not a problem. “Since these are programs run by Choate, the academic continuity is in place; credit issues don’t really exist. It’s all fairly seamless with the exception of students in math and science courses; in some cases there we have to be creative,” he wrote. Ford wrote that Choate was accommodating to students who wished to leave campus for programs not offered. “[It] happens very rarely,” he wrote. “To my recollection it’s happened once or twice in the past five years, but it’s not that difficult to arrange.” Dean of Students at Middlesex Carmen Beaton wrote in an email that Middlesex does not offer off-campus study programs. Beaton wrote, “Being a small school, we feel that all of our students are very important to our community, and we encourage them to spend all of their time here with us.” Middlesex has accommodated for students who wish to participate in another program. “We have occasionally had students who have taken a semester or, in one case, a year away, but that is really the exception to the rule,” Beaton wrote. According to Dean of Students at Deerfield Academy Jeffrey Emerson, Deerfield offers School Year Abroad, the Mountain School, the Island School and the Maine Coast Semester. Emerson wrote in an email, “There might be lots of options but very few kids actually leave.” According to Emerson, around four students left Deerfield this fall and around one will leave this spring. Emerson said that some students choose to participate in programs not offered by Deerfield, but very infrequently. “[Deerfield] is always willing to convert some tuition, if not all, to these schools [or] programs,” said Emerson.