Several of you have asked us to give the “our-side-of-the-desk” view on recommendation letters. That sounds easy enough. After all, we’ve read thousands of them and have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. The problem is that every draft of this column has read as if we think we know how to do your job better than you do, which certainly isn’t the case!
Still, in our never-ending attempt to make this newsletter both useful and playful (read: not simply a Hamilton “commercial”), and at the risk of offending those of you who haven’t asked for our advice on this topic, we’ve decided to go for it. We hope the following 10 tips are helpful!
FINALLY, above all else, know that we read your recommendation letters. This requirement is not just another arduous hoop we make you and your students jump through to no avail. To be sure, the single most important factor in our decision-making process is the high school transcript. But your comments and insight provide us with perspective and help us assess fit with our community. While we recognize that counselor workloads are not getting smaller and that you might not know all of your students (rest assured we won’t hold it against candidates in those latter cases), if and when you know a student well, your letter can be — and often is — the difference-maker that will get a student a closer look in our process.