The Phillipian & The Exonian

Non Sibi Press

2016 Freshman Survey

Early this September, The Phillipian, vol. CXXXIX, and The Exonian, vol. CXXXVIII, collaborated to conduct the first-ever survey of all incoming freshmen at Andover and Exeter. The survey, inspired by the annual “Freshman Survey” distributed by “The Harvard Crimson” and “The Yale Daily News,” consists of 36 questions and is divided into five main topics: general information, middle school, Andover/Exeter, and perceptions about the two institutions academically, socially, and athletically.

Of the 221 Juniors (freshmen at Andover) who received the survey, The Phillipian received 169 complete responses – 76.5 percent of the Class of 2020. Of the 186 Preps (freshmen at Exeter) who received the survey, The Exonian received 157 complete responses – 84.4 percent of students polled. In the interest of accurately reporting the results of the two surveys, all of the data is presented on a percentage basis and all graphs can be toggled to show individual results from each school.

We thank the students at Andover and Exeter for their willingness to provide information about themselves and to share their experiences, and we are looking forward to future collaborations between The Phillipian and The Exonian under the joint Non Sibi Press masthead.

Editor’s Note: In the interest of releasing the survey as timely as possible, this website went live before The Exonian had concluded their interviews of Exeter students. The website will be updated in due time.


The demographics reported by respondents at both Andover and Exeter were remarkably similar racially, ethnically, and religiously. The majority of respondents at both institutions identified as white: 60 percent of the respondents at Exeter, and 63 percent at Andover. Similarly, the majority of students identified as caucasian, which was the most dominant ethnicity at both schools by over 32 percent. Forty-six percent of students from both schools are on some form of financial aid.

Though students from Andover and Exeter hail from around the world, the 56 percent of boarding freshmen at Andover are local boarders, living in the Northeastern United States. At Exeter, however, only 48 percent of boarding freshmen are from the Northeastern United States.

Middle School

Andover and Exeter both share the motto “Finis Origine Pendet,” a Latin phrase commonly translated as “The end depends upon the beginning.” As such, freshmen at both schools were asked questions about their middle school experience and how they felt it prepared them for life at their new high school. At Exeter, 60 percent of respondents reported that they attended public school before coming to high school. At Andover, however, more students had attended a private middle school, coming in at 57 percent of respondents.

“My old school was public and it wasn't very good. Going to that middle school and going straight here probably wouldn't be enough, but I did a lot of stuff on my own, outside of school,” said Alex Fleury A’20.

Natalie Shen A’20 shared this sentiment. “I think [having gone] to a public school is definitely a little bit harder because I wasn’t really used to the course load … but I have gone to summer camps and that helped me,” she said.

70 percent of students who felt prepared for Andover attended private middle schools, as opposed to 30 percent who attend public middle schools. At Exeter, freshmen who attended either public or private middle schools felt equally prepared.


Andover and Exeter collectively sift through thousands of applications every year from prospective students around the world. Fifty-one percent of the responding freshmen from Andover applied to Exeter. Only 46 percent of Exeter freshmen applied to Andover, however.

Thirty-two percent of Andover freshmen who applied to Exeter were admitted, while 63 percent were placed on the waitlist. Twenty-four percent of Exeter freshmen who applied to Andover were admitted, while 21 percent were placed on the waitlist.

“What I really liked about the Andover admissions process was [that my] tour guide was extremely nice, said Ronit Gupta A’20. “I also met with a couple of [teachers who] were really great, and… willing to talk about their subjects and explain their whole curriculum.”

The majority of students admitted to both schools revisited, and, at Andover 36 percent of revisiting students responded that the experience “very positively impacted” their decision to attend the school. Thirty-four of revisiting students were “positively impacted” by their revisit.

Natalie Shen A’20 said, “I felt like Andover was definitely very warm and welcoming, but for [Exeter] – they were nice, but in a more polite way. And their campus is quite beautiful, but in a sophisticated and cold way. Here I feel like everyone’s life is vibrant.”

At Exeter, 34 percent of revisiting students responded that the experience “very positively impacted” their decision to attend the school. Forty-three percent of revisiting Exeter students were “positively impacted” by their revisit.

About 34 percent of responding freshmen at Exeter and 31 percent of responding freshmen at Andover had at least one parent, grandparent, or other immediate family member attend their school.


Both Andover and Exeter are known for their rigorous academics. Some students, like Anay Mehta A’20, feel that the schools have different academic emphases. “I have always felt Exeter to be a little more of a math-and-science-focused school,” she said. Respondents at both schools, however, favored math above all other subjects.

The majority of freshmen responded that they prioritized academics over athletics, extracurriculars, family, social life, and their faith or religion. The second-highest priority was family, by a 51-percent wide margin.

“What surprises me is that [at] both schools, most kids were picking academics,” said Ronit Gupta A’20. “There are so many people doing so many things here, so I thought there would be more people focusing on other things.”

Natalie Shen A’20 agreed. “I have heard from Exeter reviews that they don’t really focus on health problems as much, and we’ve gotten a lot of talks without consent and health and Sykes. So I feel that in that department we are well rounded, and [the administration cares] deeply about our academics as well as our health in general, ” Natalie Shen A’20 said.


Respondents were also asked about their perceptions of both Andover and Exeter. Freshmen surveyed scaled their school and its rival based on their perceived degree of academic-, athletic-, and social-orientation. 74 percent of Andover freshmen believed that Exeter students were “very academically-oriented.” The majority of Exeter freshmen, however – 56 percent – believed that Andover students were only “somewhat academically-oriented.”

At Andover, 8 percent of freshmen thought that Exeter students were “very socially-oriented,” while 41 percent of Andover freshmen responded that Exeter students were “not very socially-oriented.” Conversely, only 11 percent of Exeter freshmen responded that they thought Andover students were “not very socially-oriented.”

“I definitely hear that there are the stereotypes of Exeter tending to be less social and more [intelligent], but I feel like [students at Andover] also work very hard and are also very smart as well. One thing I have heard is that Exeter is a little bit more of a sink-or-swim school,” said Natalie Shen A’20.

Norman Walker A’20 shared the same sentiment. “I feel like Exeter is more of a sink-or-swim [school], and Andover is here to help you get on the right path,” he said.