Numerous Andover students were surprised to receive an email on February 9 advertising the college counseling services from Ryan Xie, a self-proclaimed Yale University student and alumni of Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter).
“As an Exeter alum and a current Yale student, I wanted to share some college admissions secrets. After spending 10,000 [dollars] on former Ivy League admissions officers, I created a course breaking down the most effective method for getting into top colleges, which dozens of students from prep schools have used,” wrote Xie in his email.
Four days later, the Office of Technology (OIT) sent out a schoolwide email explaining that they were investigating the situation. In the email, the OIT advised Andover students to avoid clicking on external links from unfamiliar email addresses.
“We are aware of the following email being sent to the majority of the student body over the weekend and are looking into the situation. As a reminder, please do not reply to any emails or click any links from unknown senders that you weren’t expecting to receive messages from,” wrote the OIT in an email to the Andover community.
James Del Rio ’25 received Xie’s email and explained that Andover students are often ideal recipients for emails regarding college admissions services. Xie personalized every email with the addressed Andover student’s name in the subject header and greeting.
“I knew it was someone advertising their own course, and they were trying to get some people, and Andover was a good option for him because [Andover] students can relate with Exeter students. So, if someone thinks about ‘Oh look, an Exeter student got into Yale, that means, if an Andover student did the exact same steps that he did, then [they] would also get in, because Andover and Exeter are kind of similar.’ It felt kind of uncomfortable seeing someone just send me a random email that I don’t know. And the way that he wrote it… trying to sell me something, made me feel uncomfortable,” said Del Rio.
Del Rio continued, pushing for alternate methods in addressing spam emails.
“[Andover] should be more aware about what emails students should receive, because…there’s nothing we can do about people who do stuff like this. If someone like this can do this, then anyone can just sell stuff, and any student might fall for it.” said Del Rio.
Sharing a similar sentiment to Del Rio, Zoey McCarthy ’24 did not trust the email sent by Xie..
“I wasn’t really sure [if the email was legitimate]. I thought that it could be, but I wasn’t going to look into it… It looked a little sketchy… so I didn’t watch the video or anything. I feel like Andover students, like Exeter students, are known for being pretty interested in college and Ivy League admissions, so he probably thought it was a good audience or demographic to target,” said McCarthy.
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