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Has anybody regretted going to or sending kid to Andover?

AndOffWeGoAndOffWeGo 0 replies1 threads New Member
Kid accepted at a few schools. Parents and kid love the options for different reasons but the options are small schools vs Andover. They are literally day and night.

Kid is worried they may outgrow the small schools.
Parents are worried kid might drown at Andover.

We can see kid succeeding at Andover, but the size is just so big and the reputation so fierce! Kid is independent, mature, bright, social, sporty, moves to their own drumbeat, works hard but can also "coast" on some classes. But a teenager is a teenager and in our case, parents also do not live in the next town over.

So, looking for student's and parents' input here. Has anybody regretted their decision to go for Andover? What were some of the things you wished you had known or paid more attention to? What were some qualities at the other schools you'd say no to that you wished you had put more importance on?

I am not trying to bash any school or any one. Honestly am looking for thoughtful input. Can private message me as well.

Thank you!
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Replies to: Has anybody regretted going to or sending kid to Andover?

  • ThacherParentThacherParent 845 replies50 threads Member
    edited March 30
    The big school - small school conundrum strikes again. Most of us only have experience with the school our child chose so we see this through a pro-big school or pro-small school lens. There is no objective right or wrong answers and, as many have pointed out over the years, most kids will flourish in most schools.

    The way our family thought of this choice (and our son traveled 3000 miles to boarding school) was around special versus general. We perceived that the larger schools were better places to be for a student with an extraordinary skill, like world class oboist, published physicist, All-American athlete etc, a place that would allow that child with the already-luminous talent to refine the ability further.

    We perceived that the smaller school was the better place for the student who fell more into the well-rounded category, that the smaller school was more focused (had to be more focused) on the child's overall engagement in the community, not just one small part of it. We felt that the smaller school had a better handle on the development of the whole child (mind, body and spirit) and that's what we wanted.

    Of course, this is a totally unscientific and highly biased opinion and there are many large school parents on this site who would argue that the large school does all the same things as the small school, only better. At the end of the day, we really wrestled with the distinction between "what would a school do for our child" and "who the child would become." For our family, the latter was the most important criterion and we perceived that Thacher (small school) would be the best choice to grow the child into the best that he could be. You will have to decide what is best for your family.

    Andover is a superb school.
    edited March 30
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3761 replies51 threads Senior Member
    I totally understand your concern. Andover is 'sink or swim' type of atmosphere. While it may be good for some students, it was not for ours. We ended up sending my son to Lville, which was closer to home. I know some other Andover parents, and they loved the school.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6565 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I know kids who loved it. Also know one who transferred out (and of course knows others who did as well) because he really wanted to spend more time on his EC (now his profession!) and could not at PAA because of the amount of time required for academics. This is less a big school/small school issue than one of aligning the number of hours in the day with obligations, responsibilities, and desires.

    Really something for any student to consider at any school.
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  • TemperantiaTemperantia 313 replies0 threads Member
    I bet other schools would have similar results, but the annual student survey does offer a glimpse into the culture at Andover.

    http://pdf.phillipian.net/2019/05102019.pdf

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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6565 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Good luck, @ffsophiar ! It takes a lot of courage and energy to realize when things aren't right and to make a change. It sounds like you learned a lot about yourself this year.

    I hope you'll stick around and let us know how it's going.
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 389 replies16 threads Member
    I just wanted to support you @ffsophiar on your journey! I have a DD1 ballerina who considered SPS because of their strong ballet program, and I think she would have been in the exact same situation. The academics were the priority at SPS, and frankly, dance is hers. None of these BS is a conservatory. They are at their core prep schools -- and they are prepping for something other than a professional dance career.

    UNSCA is a fantastic school! DD1 and I visited the school two years ago (for their ballet HS program), and it seemed like a dream come true for an artist -- musicians, filmmakers, dancers, etc.. What a brilliant community of committed young artists! (DD1 ended up doing full-time pre-pro ballet program + homeschooling here at home, so we decided against UNSCA for the moment, but if that changes, I'll DM you to get your thoughts!)

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  • CaliMexCaliMex 2235 replies35 threads Senior Member
    @Garandman ? Didn’t you have a child at Andover?
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1957 replies13 threads Senior Member
    @Temperantia Wow, that's insightful. Honestly, I don't think all schools would have that result at all. But it's very concerning. I do think it's great that they covered so many topics. It seems that a certain type kid from a certain type family would be fine, the rest maybe not so much. I would certainly pause if I read that and was sending my kid off to Andover.
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  • DroidsLookingForDroidsLookingFor 91 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @Happytimes2001 I'm curious as to why you think other schools wouldn't have a strikingly similar result to such a survey?
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  • Mumof3BoyzMumof3Boyz 34 replies3 threads Junior Member
    The above referenced Andover survey should be required reading for parents and kids considering attending any boarding school, as I suspect some of these poll results are applicable to BS in general, and peer schools of Andover.

    When 32% of Andover seniors polled reply they wouldn't want their kids to attend PA, it certainly makes one sit up and take notice.

    http://pdf.phillipian.net/2019/05102019.pdf
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  • DroidsLookingForDroidsLookingFor 91 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @Mumof3Boyz I'd go a step further and say that not only are the poll results more likely than not to be representative of BS in general, but of all high schools in general. And further, I'd bet that results would look "worse" from high schools in general.

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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1957 replies13 threads Senior Member
    @DroidsLookingFor I think it depends on what you are comparing to. There were certainly many things which made me stand up and take note: Just a few, the overall number of kids who wanted to leave at some point was extremely high. The number of kids who transferred a class in order to get a better grade, the rape culture question and some of the other questions particularly regarding religion, and respect for other people's opinions was low ( that's a non-starter for our family and a reason we didn't apply to many schools). We never looked at PA. Looks at though people at that school are not really allowed to express opinion outside of the norm ( or they'll feel the ramifications). That might be fine for many if they fall into the majority categories, or it may not be. Some of the items were enlightening, for example, that most varsity athletes also were from higher income levels. Also, the fact that boarders and day students don't mix would indicate that 25% ( the number of boarders) of the class wasn't fully integrated. That's problematic too. Also, look like a real emphasis on GPA as opposed to learning ( would be another red flag for us, though this is common at all BS).
    I think it totally depends on what you are comparing it to. When we looked at BS, we were comparing them to a highly rated public school in a well-funded area. The public school had lots of these issues as well ( drugs, rape culture, sexism, focus on GPA over learning, and mental illness concerns ( various). We compared the relative public school issues vs. the various BS's. Some came off our list. We chose BS because the issues quite frankly were smaller and were dealt with in a different manner. Are there kids who do drugs, drink alcohol and have various issues at kids BS? Yes, but the number is pretty limited.

    Also, many parents ask what the school policy is. Is it one strike and you're out or it dismissal pretty rare. All BS have issues, the question is, what issues are you willing to accept. For me, based on this report, I'd say it's pretty close to the public school we left.
    Still, PA has a great reputation academically. Some would definitely overlook the report. For me, it's pretty dismal. BS is expensive, and you want your kid to be in a good supportive environment. I just don't buy the idea that all schools are the same ( at all). Some are actually pretty inclusive. Thinking of two BS's, my nephews recently graduated from ( quite different from one another) and a third my kid is at. One of my nephews needed special attention in a certain area and got it ( so we know about some of the services that school provided).
    We could all discuss whether this report is typical or atypical of high school in general or BS in particular or off in some respects. I just know it would scare me as a parent.
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  • Mumof3BoyzMumof3Boyz 34 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I think all academically elite boarding schools are relatively sink or swim, some more than others.

    There are some shocking poll results in the Andover SOTA survey, and so very concerning to see the responses regarding sexual assault, mental health, stress and anxiety, cheating, honor code violations. But sorry, I think this is far more a "parenting" issue than a "school" issue.

    I won't be throwing any shade on Andover until I see some similar transparency from our kids' schools and many other BSs.

    I'm so stressed reading this Andover SOTA, I'm off now to go hug my kids and make them milk shakes.
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 534 replies6 threads Member
    Mumof3Boyz wrote: »
    I think all academically elite boarding schools are relatively sink or swim, some more than others.

    Hmmmmmm. I am not sure about this. I agree the kids are stressed everywhere. And that the standards are high in bs. But schools can differ a lot in approach. Either way, my impression is, while it may be hard to be at the top of the class, it is pretty difficult to flunk out of bs, especially if you are fp.

    I think there is the swimming model (Sink or swim) and the construction model - start with scaffolding and remove it as the student’s independence grows. Maybe there is a continuum between the two models? The Andover survey looks predictable for a more sink or swim approach. If the results are distressing, then there are elite boarding schools on the other end of the continuum. I agree that the survey results would look different over there.

    Fwiw, public schools are probably more sink or swim than boarding schools - in the sense that kids are on their own to figure out how to maximize their opportunities. BSs hand over opportunities on a silver platter.
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  • Mumof3BoyzMumof3Boyz 34 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @CateCAParent said: "Hmmmmmm. I am not sure about this. I agree the kids are stressed everywhere. And that the standards are high in bs. But schools can differ a lot in approach."

    Yes, I agree, I think you worded it better than me, and that's why kids and families really, truly, have to get comfortable with each school they seriously consider during the application and decision process.

    (Such a shame on campus revisits were cancelled this year).
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1957 replies13 threads Senior Member
    I like the scaffolding analogy. Kids at BS definitely have opportunities abound.
    It is too bad that revisits were canceled.
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  • DroidsLookingForDroidsLookingFor 91 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @Happytimes2001 you wrote "Are there kids who do drugs, drink alcohol and have various issues at kids BS? Yes, but the number is pretty limited."

    I'm wondering why you believe the number is pretty limited?
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  • confusedaboutFAconfusedaboutFA 43 replies8 threads Junior Member
    This does not appear to be exclusive to PA. Here is the link to a survey done of four of the eight ESA schools (Andover, Deerfield, NMH, Exeter) with similar questions asked: http://esa.phillipian.net/ (it appears to work best on desktop).
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 2235 replies35 threads Senior Member
    I don't buy that all schools are the same in terms of alcohol and drug use. Some schools have a lot more deliberate programming and scaffolding to help kids manage stress, take "healthy" risks, and feel connected to each other in ways that reduce the need, desire, or opportunity.
    There was a mom on CC years ago with 3 or 4 kids at different BS. She provided details about her kids' schools. Some had more of a pot culture vs alcohol. Her child at St Andrews reported no drinking or drugs on campus but LOTS of dip tobacco among the boys. Thacher's anonymous student surveys report that around 3 percent of students have used drugs or alcohol at school. I have no reason to believe one school's anonymous survey and not another's.
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