March 10 marked the release of admission decisions for Andover’s 241st admitted class. In the days and weeks following the announcement, prospective students from across the country and the globe are sitting down to decide if they will “say yes to Andover.” As revisit days and the final decision deadline approach, we as current students must think of the role we play in shaping the way prospective students view our school.
Andover is an institution that promises an abundance of opportunities to its students. Here, there are interesting classes to take, over a hundred clubs to join, and life-long friendships to make. But as newly admitted students revisit campus, it is essential that they come to understand all aspects of Andover — the good and the bad — before deciding if they want to spend the next four years of their lives here.
Through tours, student panels, and admissions materials, among other things, prospective students are introduced to a glorified version of Andover. They see the smiles, the passion, the delicious food, and the beautiful campus. What they don’t see are the late nights, the stressful assessments, and everything else that can make Andover a challenging place to be at.
This skewed perspective is not inherently the creation of the Admission Office — it is their job to bring the best students from around the world to Andover. Most of the time, it falls on the students to convey an authentic Andover experience to these new students. Students helping to advertise Andover as a perfect institution are spreading an incorrect message.
Every place has its flaws. At Andover, toxic achievement culture on campus is often overlooked and unaddressed. There have also been multiple instances where a disconnect between students and the administration has led to unpopular decisions. These, along with many other issues at Andover, generally go unmentioned to prospective students during the application cycle.
It is a strength to acknowledge these flaws because, in addition to providing a rounded perspective of Andover, it is the first step towards addressing them on campus. But more importantly, students must convey a balanced picture of this school so that prospective students understand that there is no ideal Andover experience. Advertising Andover as such can constrain a student, incoming or present, into thinking that they, too, must be flawless — that they must have a traditionally perfect Andover experience, or that they should feel or act a certain way at this school. A student may end up constantly wondering, “Why am I not enjoying myself or doing well in my classes when everyone else seems to be?” With this mindset, students may blame themselves for not being perfect in a perfect school, thus setting unrealistic expectations that are detrimental.
There is no “right” way to experience Andover, and that is essential to the school’s nature. Every student brings something different to the table, and every student experiences both the great and the not-so-great parts of Andover differently. If we keep this idea in mind as ambassadors of this institution, revisiting students may be able to enter Andover with a more open and realistic mindset and a better understanding of the school. Because, while it is a privilege to attend such a school, it is certainly not perfect, and it is damaging to all of us to depict it or treat it as such.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXLI.