Precepts for Andover

This summer I came across a good piece of advice. This counsel is inscribed on the tomb of Kineas, chosen leader of the ancient Greek city of Ai-Khanoum in northern Afghanistan. I saw this funerary monument at an exhibit of ancient Afghan artifacts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Translated from Ancient Greek, the precept reads: As a child, learn good manners; as a young man, learn to control your passions; in middle age, be just; in old age, give good advice; then die, without regret. In my opinion, the precept offers good and just advice. However, while the ancient Greeks might have been well versed in certain subjects, they didn’t know anything about Andover. And, while I don’t consider myself a great expert on our school, I do have some advice for those who want to avoid making some of my own mistakes: Do your work. Even if it may seem banal and easy, that’s no reason to leave it unattended. Procrastination may have been fine in middle school but it certainly doesn’t work here. Math tests absolutely require studying. Avoid a feud with a dormmate. Cold Wars within the dorm just make life miserable for everyone. Don’t eat pizza and ice cream every day at Commons. The number of slices may be limitless, but your metabolism’s resilience is not. Try and make it to breakfast, you’ll surprise your teachers with your alertness. Don’t make promises to teachers or clubs that you cannot keep. Once they see you fail to make good on a pledge, for example missing a deadline or failing to come to a debate practice, they won’t trust you. Eventually, they’ll lose faith in you. Don’t rely on your charm to get you by. If you find that your some of your classes have lower numbers than those of your peers, don’t feel discouraged. Learn the material and earn your place in the more advanced classes. Vacuum your room no less often than once a week, lest it become a subprime living and study environment—the resulting dust might give you allergies, too. As you adjust to this new environment, don’t let your dedication to a sport, instrument or any pursuit waver. Even though time is scarce, don’t use it as an excuse not to practice. If you ever happen to go to a dance, be courageous! Don’t be that guy standing on the edge of the floor staring at the dancers with his arms crossed. Finally, control your passions. Make sure they only lead you good places. Though I’m not yet in old age, I hope that, as the Delphic Precept would have it, I’ve given you some good advice. Who can say, perhaps it will save you some of the bumps and crashes I’ve experienced during my time here. Charlie Cockburn is a three-year Upper from Washington, D.C.