A Day in the Life

The awkward days of my Junior fall can be summed up with two words: “day student.” Everywhere I went on campus, it seemed as if those words were tattooed in capital letters across my forehead. I felt that I had been sorted into a category of students who did not belong with the rest of the school. When the library was closed and I had nowhere to go, I felt uncomfortable. Like many other Juniors, I was not yet sure that I belonged at Andover, and being a day student only intensified that feeling. Although we are nearing the end of the year, I can’t help but think about all the new day students who will arrive next fall and have to deal with the same awkward social pressures I experienced in the beginning. Boarders have each other to confide in through homesickness and adjustments to boarding school life. New boarding students quickly make friends through their dormitories. For day students, however, integration into the Andover social scene can be much more complex. There is a difficult balance between spending time at home with family and spending time at school with friends. Although many older day students spend most of their time on campus, younger day students frequently leave campus earlier in the day to eat dinner with their families and study at home. These students miss out on a vital time during which boarding students make connections and build friendships in Paresky Commons, their dormitories and the library. As a Junior, it can be difficult to befriend boarding students because it may seem like social groups are set in stone: Nathan Hale girls hang out with Nathan Hale girls, Rockwell boys hang out with Rockwell boys and so on. I want to make it clear that, eventually, these awkward feelings subside and day students do intermingle with the larger community. It takes a term or two, but it does get better. Nevertheless, more should be done to facilitate this process and make day students feel welcome on campus from day one. Social functions specifically for Juniors should be held early in the year to encourage people to meet other students, perhaps during the day to accommodate for younger day students. It is not uncommon for ninth grade day students to spend most of their weekends at home. It is often inconvenient for a parent, already stressed by his or her child’s transition to Andover, to drive students home late at night after a dance or other social event. By scheduling functions aimed at underclassmen earlier in the evening during Fall Term, we could increase the convenience for day students. This would hopefully encourage the social intermingling of ninth graders that often does not occur until later in the year. In addition, we students should strive to eliminate the social stigma that surrounds day students on this campus. Occasionally, especially earlier on in the Andover experience, day students are shrugged off as a lesser kind by boarders. These comments are silly and only perpetuate a divide that doesn’t need to exist. Day students are just as eager to meet and befriend their fellow youth from every quarter, but often meet resistance because of this stigma. If we, as a community, stopped making small jokes and comments about day students, even if they seem meaningless, we could dispel this sentiment and form a more inclusive community. Day students may live close to Andover, but they make sacrifices just like boarding students do in order to come here. We need to focus on what we all have in common, rather than what separates us. Day students and boarding students alike came to Andover to work hard and improve. We do that best together—without any awkward pressures getting in the way. Caroline Lu is a two-year Lower from Andover, Mass.