The Ivy Coach Daily

July 21, 2011

College Letters of Recommendation

A college letter of recommendation from a senator who doesn’t know you may well do more harm than good.

We’re often asked questions about whether students should submit college letters of recommendation from important people. The answer is yes! Colleges should be receiving letters of recommendation from some of the most important people in your life – the teachers who have shaped your education and your high school guidance counselor. Notice that we wrote “in your life.” Too often, parents think that a letter of recommendation from their government representative or from their boss, a well known CEO, will help their child’s admissions prospects.

They couldn’t be more wrong! College admissions counselors don’t want to hear from senators and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies who don’t know the applicant at all. What is that letter of recommendation going to say? “Daniel’s father is an excellent, smart employee. He really helped us in Q3. I imagine his son is smart, too.” That would be ridiculous. You’re not going to impress college admissions counselors with college letters of recommendation from big names.

At service academies like West Point and Annapolis, it’s a requirement for admission to have a letter of recommendation from the local representative. But at just about every other college in the nation, you’d be making a major mistake to submit such a letter. College admissions counselors may even laugh and think, “This kid thought this letter from big name that says absolutely nothing was going to help? I’ll show him!” And by showing him, that college admissions counselor is going to deny him admission.

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