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Guide to Letters of Recommendation

Guidelines

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions requests letters of recommendation from school counselors and two academic teachers so that we may better understand applicants in the context of the classroom and in their school community at large.

The most compelling letters of recommendation offer information that either expands upon something we have learned from the student's application or informs us of something entirely new. The best recommendations are not checklists of what the student has accomplished; the best recommendations expound upon these accomplishments.

Keeping in mind there are several ways to approach a recommendation letter, those writing on behalf of a student might consider the following topics:

  • How the student challenged himself/herself in a specific circumstance or set of circumstances
  • How the student displayed true passion for an academic subject or activity
  • How the student achieved something unprecedented in either the recommender's career or the history of the high school

Recommendations may also include any anecdote that epitomizes the student's abilities, character, and persona. Overall, letters of recommendation should provide us with a more detailed sense of the student in and out of the classroom.

If students wish to submit additional letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, employers, or anyone else who can bring something new to the application, they may include those as well. We strongly advise that these extra letters offer additional information about the applicant, and we encourage a “quality—over—quantity” approach.

If your school has created its own form for letters of recommendation, you may use it. Simply write “See Attached” on our form the applicant will hand you and submit both.