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Andover describes admissions process

2prepMom2prepMom Registered User Posts: 1,140 Senior Member
edited February 2011 in Prep School Cafe
From the Phillipian:PA Sees Most Competitive Applicant Pool in School History | News | The Phillipian (May, 2010) a rather long but interesting post:

"The 405 members of Phillips Academy’s 233rd admitted class hail from places as close as Andover, MA to countries as distant as Kazakhstan.

This year, only 14 percent of the 2,844 students who applied recieved letters of acceptance, a decrease from last year’s admittance rate of 17 percent.

The total number of applicants rose from 2,711 last year to 2,844 candidates, a five percent increase.

Of the accepted students, 212 are male and 195 are female.

The Office of Admissions admitted 259 Juniors, 100 new Lowers, 19 new Uppers and 29 new Seniors.

As of March 10, the entering class will arrive from 241 different schools, of which 143 are public schools, 117 are private, 10 are parochial, 44 are foreign and one a home school.

83 percent of prospective students are boarders, while the remaining 17 percent are day students.

Next year’s financial aid budget is $16.4 million, a 5.1 percent increase from this year’s. 44 percent of new students will receive financial aid.

The incoming class has a median SSAT score of 94 percent, the same as last year’s median, and the incoming class spans 39 states and 27 countries.

Compared to last year’s 10 percent, 11 percent of the admitted students are considered international, meaning that they have a F-1 student visa and are not a US citizen nor a permanent resident of the US. American students studying abroad are not included in the statistics, but they are invited to the international orientation.

Jane Fried, Dean of Admissions, attributes Phillips Academy’s recent rise in number of applicants and the increasing variety of places they are from to the school’s 2004 Strategic Plan, which asks Admissions to recruit more extensively.

The plan’s success is reflected in the fact that admissions travelers visited 38 states in 2009-2010, compared to 27 states in 2000-2001.

In addition, inquiries to the school, including phone calls for a catalog and similar requests, have increased by 16 percent from 2003, before the Strategic Plan was put into effect. The total numbers of preliminary applications and completed applications likewise have increased 27 percent and 42 percent, respectively, compared to 2003. Even compared to 2008, completed applications alone have increased by 23 percent.

2,210 applicants interviewed on-campus, compared to 2003’s 1,599 and last year’s 2,092. 1,130 applicants interviewed off-campus, compared to 508 in 2003 and 1,068 last year.

As the office has been packed with interviews, Fried cites the growing group of Alumni Admission Representatives (AARs) as key to the interview process. Volunteering their time, local AARs help out at the Admissions Office on various weekends and AARs further away conduct interviews from wherever they are located.

Fried added, “AARs are meeting with kids in California, Kazakhstan, Nairobi and Paris, like they always have, but we have a growing group of AARs who are doing Skype interviews. For instance, we have AARs in Kansas, but we don’t have a lot of kids applying from Kansas. But now somebody in Kansas can help out by interviewing a kid who can’t get an interview with their local AARs because they’re already full. This has been a really interesting, new development, and one that has become very helpful to us in moving ahead.”

The Andover website also received 818,983 page views from February 1 to March 29, a 3.7 percent increase from last year. The Admissions section of the webpage in particular had a 10.0 percent increase in page views compared to the previous year. The newly added Dean’s Journal page received 11,845 views.

Fried said that the Internet has helped a lot in expanding the school’s outreach.

The school’s need blind policy in admissions, which went into effect in 2008, has also had an impact.

“Need blind admissions sends a very strong message about openness, access, and strength. [During the economic crisis], it was an incredible beacon. It really drew people to the school.”

However, Fried said that the appeal of the school was broad, as they also saw increases across the board in the number of applicants who need financial aid, but also in those who do not.

“That’s really good. I always think that Admissions is a barometer for the school. If Admissions is going well, it says good things about what’s going on on campus.”

Fried also said that interest in the school can be attributed to the “global outlook of Andover’s academic program” and the character of the student body.

“[Andover]’s a big place, but it’s a warm place,” said Fried.

According to Fried, the increase in interest and completed applications is only part of the reason behind a decreased admittance rate for this year.

The admission yield, or the percentage of admitted students who actually matriculate, is another factor, and in recent years, the yield has increased from 77 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2010. This results in fewer spaces for new candidates, which, combined with a growing applicant pool, reduces the admit rate.

Similarly, attrition, the percentage of students who leave the school for any reason, has to be considered. Last year’s rate was 1.7 percent, compared to a typical annual rate of 2.8 percent from before the Strategic Plan.

Though Admissions is trying to recruit more broadly, the office is not specifically aiming to decrease Andover’s admit rate.

Fried said, “I think it’s very important for people to know that it’s not a goal of the Admissions Office to drive applications higher and higher so we can admit fewer students. To me, that’s a meaningless goal. I don’t think it’s something that schools should aspire to do.”

“In fact, because we have a very big Senior class this year, I’m hoping we’re going to have more spaces after they graduate,” she added.

During the application process, a candidate’s folder is typically read four times, with additional input from the appropriate department to assess supplemental qualities, such as music tapes, math contest scores or art portfolios.

A faculty member of the admission committee and the applicant’s interviewer first read the application. Each fills out a form, giving an academic vote, personal vote, and action vote to the candidate, on the familiar scale of 1 to 6.

The personal vote indicates whether the applicant is a good fit for the school, while the action vote indicates how strongly the reviewer feels about admitting the candidate.

After recently working with renowned psychologist Robert Sternberg, additional votes are given for creative skills, practical skills, whether a student is able to organize themselves independently at school, and ethical reasoning, whether a student makes good decisions and sees the difference between right and wrong.

The folder is then passed to the applicant’s designated class officer, who will read and recommend a decision after summarizing the comments of the previous two readers to the dean, either Fried or William Leahy, Senior Associate Dean of Admissions. The dean makes the final decision after reading.

Fried, however, looks over the applications of admitted students one last time before personally signing their acceptance letters and occasionally makes a few, rare changes in decision.

Fried explained that in selecting applicants Admissions is trying to “create community.”

“Smart students are very easy to find. Just being smart is not enough to come to Andover. We’re looking for students who individually are good fits for the school and then collectively as a class are a cohesive unit.”

Fried added, “You want to choose the students who have the ability to do well here and to make a difference, but you also want to choose the students who have the inclination to make a difference. We know that not everybody who can, will.”

She cited intelligence, niceness and diversity as the main points she looks for in an applicant.

“The two things that you can’t be a student at Andover without are the intellectual ability to do the work and the niceness to be part of this community.”

Fried said, “The diversity piece comes in many different forms.” Such forms include diversity in schooling, diversity in talents, racial diversity, cultural diversity, or economic diversity.

The needs of the Andover community also plays into the acceptance of students. For instance, the music department might be lacking in cellists.

However, in addition to admitting students with very specific interests and talents, Admissions also tries to balance the class by admitting applicants with broader interests and a general curiosity to try new things once at Andover. Such kids form the “glue” that strengthens and integrates the community.

Fried called the selection process “a complex puzzle put together every year.”
Post edited by 2prepMom on

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