As the first round of college applications ends and the fall term comes to a close, it seems more timely than ever to address one of the most prevalent and divisive topics on campus: college admissions.
At a school filled with students who share different perspectives, personalities, and preferences, there is a wide spectrum of openness around college that has become increasingly difficult to navigate. Some students prefer to keep the details of the process strictly private, while others discuss it freely without a second thought. Personal preference aside, within the context of Andover’s hyper-competitive social and academic environments, this spectrum has produced a toxic college culture of secrecy and animosity, causing division within the student body. This culture has manifested in many negative ways, such as students feeling overly pressured to share their college lists against their wishes, comparing themselves to others in damaging ways, and feeling as if their college decisions are outside of their control.
College is a big part of all of our lives here at Andover, especially those of Seniors. Much of the college process is stressful and deeply personal, and experiencing negative emotions is, in some ways, inevitable. Seniors and other members of the Andover community should not be blamed or shamed for partaking in this toxic college culture, though it is our responsibility to recognize and interrogate its effects.
We as a community still have the agency to define the process’ effects on us, and we should strive to remember our values despite the imposing force of acceptance rates. Instead of isolating ourselves from each other, we can embrace this challenge collectively and acknowledge our shared aspirations. We can develop support systems with our peers, whether by openly addressing the challenges confronting us or by simply being there for those who need us when they need us.
Ultimately, the college process is up to each individual. Everyone should have the ability to decide whether they want to go through it by themselves or invite others to help them along the way. For the non-Seniors: it is especially important to give the Seniors the space and support they need, as well as to be cognisant of how each person is going through the process in their own way.
In the end, Seniors should remember that they do not embark on this journey alone. Faculty, friends, and peers are with students every step of the way to remind them that there is more than one path to this adventure. The key to navigating Andover’s college culture is not to ignore its effects, but to remind ourselves of our own multifacetedness, strengths, and experiences incomparable to those of anyone else.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXLI.