Parents so often ask us which teachers their children should ask to write letters of recommendation on their behalf. It should be the teachers who they best feel can articulate what your child brings to the class. So often, students choose a math teacher because the student got the highest grade on a certain test in that teacher’s course. But who cares which class your child got the highest grade in. Admissions officers at highly selective colleges can read that on your child’s transcript. A letter of recommendation that spells out just how Jacob secured the highest grade of all of the eighteen students on the trigonometry final just isn’t all that interesting. In fact, it’s not interesting at all. It’s boring.
Students should choose teachers who they’ve actually had discussions with. They should choose teachers who taught classes in which the students contributed to the class discussions. They should choose teachers who don’t have a reputation for submitting template letters of recommendation. Because every single college admissions officer knows when they’re reading a template letter of recommendation. These letters couldn’t be more boring and they couldn’t be more purposeless.
So, students, don’t think about grades when selecting which teachers to ask for letters of recommendation. Think about what this teacher can actually write about you, about what you contributed to class discussions, debates, assignments, etc. That’s the stuff that’s a whole lot more interesting than whether or not you got the highest grade on the trigonometry final. Good for you. Who cares? Not an admissions officer (although they want to see top grades, too, so we were saying that more for affect).
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