From Surviving to Thriving

Despite all that I was told regarding the academic rigor and time management challenges, before coming to Andover I felt like I would be one out of the few students who would be able to handle it right from the beginning. I thought that by attending Andover’s Summer Session the summer before school started I had prepared myself for any challenges that might come my way. Contrary to my belief, however, I arrived on campus and became just another new ninth grader who was struggling to stay afloat. My first day was nerve-wracking. My parents were unable to accompany me to my first day on campus so I had to fly to Andover and take a cab from the airport alone. As I unpacked in my new dorm room, I heard other girls saying goodbye to their families. Some farewells were tearful, while other students were more impatient to be rid of their parents. Later that night, as I lay down in a room with a stranger sitting across from me, I realized I’d never felt more alone in my life. It quickly became clear that my transition to Andover life would not be as seamless as I had imagined. I was lucky enough to know the campus better than other students thanks to my time at Summer Session, but that didn’t stop me from going to my Spanish classroom when I had history or walking all the way around the gym to get to the pool instead of just crossing through the girl’s locker room. I remember thinking one week that the homework wasn’t that bad, and then suddenly being bombarded with assignments the week after. To make things worse, others around me seemed to be more talented than I could ever hope to be, and I felt as though I had nothing to offer. It wasn’t until the third week, when I was smacked with an unexpected bout of homesickness, that I realized I still hadn’t fully acclimated to Andover. But even more important was my gradual realization that my slow acclimation was normal, and you do not necessarily have to be perfect to achieve success at Andover. Andover is hard. Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of each day, we forget that we’re only human, and humans aren’t perfect. Some days, you won’t finish your homework, or you’ll have to skip a club meeting, or sometimes you’ll just have to go to sleep at 8 p.m. to recharge. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being able to handle everything. Andover has many support systems to help you when you feel like you’re lost in the tide. I’ve found that friends going through similar experiences are great resources for support. They help you see that you are not alone, although you may feel isolated at times. My advice to struggling students is to talk to adults on campus because they are willing to help you. They’ve been here for many years before you and will probably be there for many more after you graduate. They understand that the overwhelming world of Andover can be hard to handle. Take advantage of the school’s resources, like the Academic Skills Center and Graham House. Going to the ASC doesn’t mean you are hopelessly disorganized, and going to Graham House doesn’t make you insane. These institutions have been put in place to help students adjust to, and eventually thrive at, the place they call home. I’ve tried and learned many new things since I’ve arrived at Andover, but I think the most important thing that I have realized is that it is okay to not have it together all the time. Perfection is impossible, but trying your best isn’t. When life here gets hard, make sure to remember that everyone here is trying to help you succeed. Take advantage of our common desire, as Phillipians: to prosper. Skylar-Bree Takyi is a Junior from East Orange, NJ.