So, there I was, drooling over the MIT application when ...
I noticed that it didn't say that MIT preferred that teacher recs come from your last two years of high school... It just says that " . . . the best recommendations are written by teachers who know an applicant well as both a student and a person." So does this mean that I can use even my freshman year Bio teacher, if I really, truly wanted to?
Come on now, as an MIT applicant I'm sure you are a smart kid-smarter than me anyway. You answered your own question. But, as a caveat, it doesn't look as good of a rec if it comes from a 9th, even 10th grade teacher, unless you still do something with them (i.e. club, research, etc.). Colleges want to see a rec from a higher level teacher in a higher level course because in 11/12 grade you are more mature and have more of a personality that is closer to that which you'll have in college.
I wish I could get my 10th grade bio teacher to write a rec for me....the man was sort of narcaleptic and fell asleep in the middle of lectures all the time....and talked in his sleep....one day I taught the class about the lac operon when he was out like a light....hence, he'd probably fall asleep before finishing a college reccomendation.
what did this story have to do with anything? absolutely nothing.....just for entertainment. the more entertaining part? it's totally true
Anything you do that might reasonably make an admissions officer doubt it's validity is bad. Whether they statistically care or not, I wouldn't want them to ever think, "I wonder if this kid honestly had to go back 4 years to find someone who thought highly of him/her." It's just not good to give the adcom any reason to doubt what should be a very positive part of your application. I mean... you get to pick the person who likes you best of ALL your teachers! Cool! Its like getting to pick just one grade to show them. It'll sound a little dodgy if you tell them about your A in Gym class.
That said, if you feel your Bio teacher can comment on the recent things you've done or has seen qualities in you that other teachers haven't, go for it. But if you're picking between multiple teachers and all else is equal, go for the one who had you more recently.
Option A: Science teacher who's had me for two years, junior year being most recent. Although I think he's got a good grip on my personality, I don't have much contact with outside of class.
Option B: Science teacher I had in 9th grade. But, I've been heavily involved all four years in a club in which he is the advisor. He's also one of those people I go and talk to just for the heck of it.
Or, it kind of occurred to me, I could use a supplemental rec...
I'd say option B, simply because they could give a classroom view and a club view and a personal view since you guys talk "just for the heck of it." They could write about all the qualities that colleges are interested in. One of my recs was a teacher that I had had both in the classroom and in clubs and stuff, but he was also a guy that I would come in early to school just to talk with. I've never read his rec...but i'm assuming it was a good one.....
Yeah I also go with option B- i got my rec from a teacher I had in 8th grade (he was a high school teacher, dont worry, I was taking high school math). But I kept in close touch with him after that, first through a club, and after that just by hanging out with him...and I got in!
stasterisk- It doesn't take a genius to figure that a school is more interested in how someone views your personality in 11th grade vs. someone that new you in 9th. 3 school years has quite an effect on a personality, whether it is explicitly shown or not. That being said, I think if the science teacher is connected to the OP by way of a strong commitment to a club, then he would be able to write a great rec. He should however make a point of stating, "I have really gotten to know Acrylicz because of my club..." Go with option B if MIT doesn't care about what grade the teacher was from. There are many schools that care however, and then you might be out of luck.