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Is there a limit to how many letters of rec you can have?

explodingtoenailexplodingtoenail Posts: 513Registered User Member
What if I happen to have a great rapport with more than 2 of my teachers?
Post edited by explodingtoenail on
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Replies to: Is there a limit to how many letters of rec you can have?

  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,288Super Moderator Senior Member
    MIT welcomes supplemental letters of recommendation, but to be helpful, you should be sure that additional letters talk about different aspects of you and your life -- five letters saying exactly the same thing wouldn't be particularly useful.

    I think Bryan Nance, former admissions officer, said it best:
    Don't send a bajillion letters of recommendation... I'd say more than 5-6 letters is really pushing it. Remember, we'll read everything that you send us. Don't abuse this. If I read a letter from your milkman saying that you like strawberry yogurt, I'm gonna be ****ed.

    But the official policy helps, too:
    Supplemental evaluations are also welcome — we simply ask that they provide different or additional context beyond the two we’ve already requested. Some examples of supplemental recommendations include coaches, employers, research advisors, and music teachers. Supplemental letters from a third academic teacher rarely provide additional helpful information.
  • LionHeart365LionHeart365 Posts: 103Registered User Junior Member
    ^ But I always had this question, how can someone know if the supplemental recommendations will talk about different aspects of their life thereby throwing new light on their app for the admission officers ?
    All we can do is ask different people for recs like coach, teachers, employers, etc, but what if they say the same thing, like say I'm good in sports so my coach said he's determined & a very good athlete, then say I'm good in my studies also, so my teachers said the same & lastly I'm good at work too, thus my employer too said the same as well.
    So in overall all the admission officers get is "I'm determined & very good in many aspects of life".

    I believe the admission officers should take note of who's recommending, like if a coach, a teacher & an employer all recommend then that guy must be good in all three.
    Yes obviously some teachers may know you better than somebody else & quality always varies from person to person, but he need not be any "extra" in any particular area, otherwise we might to ask every1 to write something new in the recommendation which is unfair.

    Please reply to this, as I always wanted to know about this.
    Thanks!
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,288Super Moderator Senior Member
    Well, of course you want all of your recommendation letters to be positive, so in broad strokes, all of them say "this person is outstanding and will make a substantial contribution to your university." Nobody's asking you to get variety in your letters in that sense.

    But your letters should (if they're well-written) give specific examples to illustrate your positive traits, and naturally different teachers and mentors in your life will be able to highlight different traits and to tell different stories about you. Your sports coach might be able to talk about your leadership skills, while your math teacher might spend more time talking about your intellectual ability. What wouldn't be useful would be to have two letters that highlight exactly the same traits -- a letter from your junior year English teacher and a letter from your sophomore year English teacher, to use an extreme example.
  • LionHeart365LionHeart365 Posts: 103Registered User Junior Member
    ^ Very true.
    Nobody will know how the letters will be in the end, cause the person writing isn't showing us what he or she's writing. Thus the only thing we hope for is that person writes positive things about us in a well presented manner which catches the eyes of the Adm officers.

    But here's my question,
    Like I get a rec from my coach, my English teacher & from my employer & all say the same thing (well-written).
    While my friend gets a letter from his coach & his Math teacher, but each letter shows something new for him.
    So who's recs are more powerful ?

    Definitely well-written recs are always valued more, but significant weight is given to the person recommending or to the contents of the letter ?
  • explodingtoenailexplodingtoenail Posts: 513Registered User Member
    Yeah, I'm a bit confused as to how one would prevent rec letters from saying the same thing, unless they have like multiple personalities or something.
  • k4r3n2k4r3n2 Posts: 937Registered User Member
    ^ It's subtle, which seems to be difficult for you to grasp. Let me give you an example.

    My letters of recommendation were from my AP Biology teacher (who was also my academic bowl coach) and my AP French teacher. My French teacher had taught me for three years and talked in-depth about my exchange trip to France and my experiences there. She also discussed seeing me grow from a sophomore to a senior and how I was in French class.

    My Biology teacher talked about my passion and curiosity. He also talked about how I mentored the younger students on the team. Of course, it didn't hurt that I routinely set the curve on his tests :)

    So, both teachers talked about my academic abilities, but each had seen a different view of me as a person. I did well in both classes, but they were different skills, and I was good at them for different reasons. Their two letters gave the admissions officers a well-rounded view of me as a person, and I was lucky to have both of them in my corner fighting for me :)
  • explodingtoenailexplodingtoenail Posts: 513Registered User Member
    It's subtle, which seems to be difficult for you to grasp.

    It's funny, according to the MIT Blogs, you're supposed to be nice...

    But thanks for your explanation anyway; I appreciate your help. :)
  • LionHeart365LionHeart365 Posts: 103Registered User Junior Member
    ^ Yes it's always better to have as much info (positive) as possible to be given to the Adm officers as possible, but my question still remains unanswered i.e. more weight is given to the person recommending or the contents of the letter ?
    Say my employer (Mr.Chairman) recommends me with a decent rec while my English teacher write a fantastic rec for me, which is valued more ?
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,288Super Moderator Senior Member
    my question still remains unanswered i.e. more weight is given to the person recommending or the contents of the letter ?
    Say my employer (Mr.Chairman) recommends me with a decent rec while my English teacher write a fantastic rec for me, which is valued more ?
    This is not an answerable question. Both letters would be considered together in the evaluation of your application as a whole.
  • LionHeart365LionHeart365 Posts: 103Registered User Junior Member
    This is not an answerable question.

    Thus I'm still confused as to whom should I ask for a recommendation.
    I know the obvious answer would be "the person who knows you more than anyone else", but mostly those are my previous teachers & since I'm new current teachers are more busy with their old students of the school. But my employer can recommend me but I'm not sure if he can represent me well on paper.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,288Super Moderator Senior Member
    Well, you need one recommendation from a math or science teacher and one recommendation from a humanities teacher. For additional letters, which are optional, an employer would be a great source for a letter.
  • LionHeart365LionHeart365 Posts: 103Registered User Junior Member
    ^ Does it need to be from the current teachers only or it can be from any previous teachers ?
  • k4r3n2k4r3n2 Posts: 937Registered User Member
    Any teachers, but you need one math / science teacher and one humanities teacher, and junior year teachers are generally preferred to freshman/sophomore year teachers.
  • LionHeart365LionHeart365 Posts: 103Registered User Junior Member
    ^ Is it mandatory that I had taken the class taught by the teacher recommending me ?
    Or just the teacher who knows me well both personally & academically in overall ?
  • k4r3n2k4r3n2 Posts: 937Registered User Member
    It's not really a teacher recommendation if they weren't your teacher.
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