Dorm Decorations Provide Glimpse into Boarder Life

Sofia Cordover ’21 was featured on the Andover Admissions Instagram page for the contest.

Many students spend hours decorating their dorm rooms, making their spaces as cozy as possible for their time at Andover. With the start of a new contest on campus, boarding students now have the opportunity to showcase their decked-out dorm rooms.

The Andover Office of Communications has partnered with the Admissions Team in holding a room decoration contest with the winner receiving the ultimate prize of a dorm munch of choice.

The idea behind the dorm room decoration contest arose from new students, who said during focus group testing that they would have wanted a clearer sense of dorm life and actual pictures of dorm rooms as applicants.

“We thought this would be a fun way for us to get photos of students’ rooms to share with prospective students,” wrote Neil Evans, Associate Director of Digital Communications, in an email to The Phillipian.

Evans continued, “We’re not looking for the “best” rooms on campus… We want to see as many rooms as possible to highlight the variety of spaces and student styles.”

Vivien Mallick, Director of Admissions Operations, recently posted a picture of Sofia Cordover ’21 in her dorm room on the Andover Admissions Instagram account in order to introduce the contest to students.

Cordover said that Mallick, a House Counselor in Bancroft Hall, emailed all the members of the dorm to see if they wanted to enter in the contest and have their rooms photographed.

“I didn’t respond to the email initially because my room was kind of messy,” Cordover said.

Cordover, however, eventually agreed, and since then, the photo of her room has amassed close to 300 likes on the Andover Admissions Instagram.

Cordover said that being able to see what dorm rooms looked like would have been helpful before she came to Andover.

Cordover said, “When I was applying, I tried Googling what Andover dorms looked like, [and] I obviously didn’t get any results. I think I would’ve liked to see what rooms look like, the size, what the bed looks like, the desk and stuff like that.”

Cordover said that in decorating her room, she wanted to make it feel less like a dorm room and more like her bedroom at home. She also encouraged all students to enter in the contest as an opportunity to share all the hard work that they have done in decorating their rooms.

“A lot of people spend multiple days putting their rooms together, so it’s a great opportunity to show that off,” said Cordover.

Many students interviewed were initially hesitant to submit photos of their rooms as contest entries, because they believed that their rooms might not be decorative enough.

Chioma Ugwonali ’20 said, “I don’t think my is room is aesthetically pleasing to the general public, because it’s filled with objects that are sentimental to me but not that decorative.”

Ramphis Medina PG’19 felt the same way.  “I don’t think my room is that cool or impressive… I’m also a [Post-Graduate student] so I don’t have that much experience decorating my room.”

In terms of how students should go about preparing their room for the contest, Mallick wrote, “It’s not actually about the best decorations — we just want to see the ways students live authentically here at Andover. Many of our prospective students have never lived away from home before and they’d love to get a better sense of what that might look like.”

Only clean rooms qualify as contest entries, and only one submission per room is allowed. Students can increase their odds of winning a dorm munch by encouraging other members in their dorm to apply.

Nnenna Okorie ’22 said, “I think it’s motivational to keep my room clean and also pretty helpful, because when I was applying, I didn’t have an idea of what the rooms looked like.”

Submissions will be open until January 11, 2019 and the winner will be randomly selected in late January. The selected student’s house counselor will be contacted to schedule the munch. The Office of Communications and the Admissions Team plans on uploading selected contest entries on the Andover website and social media.

Students interested in participating in the contest can either send an email to or direct message @PhillipsAcademy on Instagram with a photo of their room attached. Students will then be contacted directly to schedule a photo shoot of their room with a photographer.

Evans wrote, “If you’ve taken time to create a living area you are proud of, why not share that with future Andover students?”

Editor’s Note: Aissata Bah is an Business Associate for The Phillipian.