It is the quintessential American preparatory school, with a history of educating America's elites for universities, particularly Yale University. Phillips Academy's historical realationship with Yale has receded this century, from 75% of students in a graduating class in the 1920s attending Yale, to 50% in the 1950s, to a low percentage today. The graduating students today attend a wide number of colleges and universities, from Bowdoin College to Stanford University.
Phillips Academy was founded in 1778, during the American Revolution by Samuel Phillips, Jr. The great seal of the school was designed by Paul Revere. George Washington sent his nephews here, and spoke at an assembly while visting. John Hancock, the famous signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, signed the articles of incorporation.
Paul Revere incorporated the symbols of bees, a beehive, and the sun into the school's great seal. The school's primary Latin motto, Finis Originae Pendit, meaning "the end depends upon the beginning," is scrolled across the bottom of the seal. The school's secondary motto, Non Sibi, located in the sun, means "not for one's self."
Abbott Academy was founded in 1829 and named for Sarah Abbott, and was the first school for girls in New England. It educated elite American women for 144 years. Abbott Academy, still a girls-only school, was adjacent to and adjoining Phillips Academy, a boys' school. Abbott and Phillips Academy merged in 1973, turning Phillips coeducational. Abbott alumnae often have felt that the merger was more of a hostile takeover, pointing to the neglect of Abbott's resources such as its buildings.
The name Andover is often used today to distinguish the school from a similarly named school in Exeter, New Hampshire, and reflects the merger of Phillips Academy and Abbott Academy.