The Ivy Coach Daily

August 18, 2014

Bad Counselor Letter of Recommendation

A parent on the San Diego Unified School District school board is suing the district for a school counselor’s letter of recommendation on behalf of her child. The parent believes the letter willfully damaged her child’s admissions chances. Oy vey.

At Ivy Coach, we help our students help their teachers and their school counselors write their letters of recommendation. How exactly do we do that? The vast majority of teachers and school counselors don’t want to devote a good portion of their summer months to writing letters of recommendation for their students. It’s tiresome. It’s boring. It’s unpaid work and, often times, the students aren’t even appreciative (we always encourage our students to be so appreciative!). So we help our students help their teachers and school counselors save valuable time. We work with our students on crafting bullet points (in full sentences of course) that our students email to their teachers and school counselors with a note along the lines of: “Just in case it might be helpful, I’ve put together…” You get the idea.

Why is this important? Well, it’s a student’s best shot of getting great information in these letters of recommendation as — quite often — teachers and counselors will just click copy and then click paste. In our years of experience, we find this happens the vast majority of the time. Humans like shortcuts. It’s not unethical. It’s just helpful. And it’s smart. So, today, when we came across a news story in which a family (the mother, interestingly, is a school board vice president) is suing a San Diego school district because a school counselor’s letter of recommendation “willfully damaged” the student’s admissions chances, all we could think about was how the parents clearly don’t read our college admissions blog. After all, this isn’t the first time we’ve offered advice on teacher and counselor letters of recommendation!

According to an article on the bad counselor letter of recommendation in “UT San Diego,” “The complaint accuses the head counselor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts of submitting the Universal College Application, known as the Common App, an an evaluation of the student that was ’inaccurate, willfully damaging, unprofessional and ultimately violated (the student’s) civil rights and (San Diego Unified) standards.’…[Marne] Foster, [the parent and school board vice president], reportedly requested a copy of the confidential evaluation after learning that her son’s longtime counselor was excluded from writing the assessment.”

This problem could have been easily avoided! Oy vey.

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