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Parent Recommendation Letter

missypiemissypie Posts: 16,865Registered User Senior Member
edited February 2011 in Parents Forum
I know I've seen a thread on this, but I've done multiple searches and just can't find it. Two of the colleges to which Son is applying "strongly recommend" parent recommendation letters. How are these helpful? Wouldn't every parent gush about his or her child? Are they looking for specific traits that are mentioned to see if the student would be a good fit? Any guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Post edited by missypie on
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Replies to: Parent Recommendation Letter

  • cangelcangel Posts: 4,127Registered User Senior Member
    Wow, our HS asks for a parents letter for the use of the college counselor, but I've never heard of a COLLEGE actually asking for a parents' letter. My only advice would be to be honest, especially if these are small liberal arts school - honest, not brutally honest. No need to list the traits that drive you crazy.
  • nysmilenysmile Posts: 5,850Registered User Senior Member
    We had to write a parent letter for one of our son's applications. We made it short, simple, and casual. Instead of gushing about how smart he is--blah blah blah--we focused on his sense of humor and "surfer" attitude. It was all of about 2 paragraphs long and we made a point to not sound like bragging parents. He was accepted to the school but decided to attend a different one. Good luck.

    Let the teacher recommendations focus on academics. Let your recommendation highlight his personality.
  • Muffy333Muffy333 Posts: 2,061Registered User Senior Member
    SUNY Geneseo wants a parent rec. I'd try to write a really interesting or funny one so at least they'd remember the applicant.
  • pmrlcommpmrlcomm Posts: 2,235- Senior Member
    I'm trying to figure out the value of a parent recommendation letter? Who is going to say anything other than stellar things? That would be very interesting to have to write one though. Perhaps I'll write one just for the fun of it to see how I really feel about them... lol
  • 07DAD07DAD Posts: 5,155Registered User Senior Member
    I faced this for my S in the admission process at the private school level, not college.

    I read the literature that the school sent out to prospective parents/students. I figured that if their own literature stressed certain aspects of what the school had to offer, that was a good "outline" for what they were looking for: someone who would make use of and add to thoses things. It worked at the private school level.

    I too suggest honesty in assessing the student. I think that a total "rah-rah" letter lacks persuasion.

    Added in regard to pmrlcomm: if part of the focus is what the school can offer to the student and how this would work to the advantage of both the student and the school, it doesn't have to be a "personal puff piece" for the student.
  • nysmilenysmile Posts: 5,850Registered User Senior Member
    Muffy333, we wrote one for Geneseo. (see previous post above)
  • missypiemissypie Posts: 16,865Registered User Senior Member
    I wrote one for his Eagle Scout application. It was about five sentences long.

    I mean, I do think my son is amazing....what he has achieved while having Asperger's impresses the heck out of me. I know that I can talk about a few positive traits that others probably don't write about - like him being utterly non-judgmental.

    The cynic in me keeps wondering if the letter is never a positive but could be a negative. For example, if a student has great grades and no ECs and the parent writes about how nice it is that the student studies all the time, it would just confirm the school's perception that the student is not well rounded.
  • 07DAD07DAD Posts: 5,155Registered User Senior Member
    Since reading the threads on CC discloses that some students have parents who provide no guidance, no parental support and, on a few occasions actively are not in favor of their child going to college, maybe it lets the school know which students come with parental support and encouragement.

    Perhaps it is also an opportunity to give subtle hints to the admissions office that the parents aren't helicopter loonies?
  • missypiemissypie Posts: 16,865Registered User Senior Member
    Perhaps it is also an opportunity to give subtle hints to the admissions office that the parents aren't helicopter loonies?

    Why? Because the helicoper loonies will write a letter that is three pages single spaced, and others will write a five sentence email?
  • 07DAD07DAD Posts: 5,155Registered User Senior Member
    Nah--Length alone wouldn't necessarily tell the tale.

    I think there are ways to stress the student's attributes and indicate that the student is "looking forward" to the challanges, that telegraphs it is the student who is going to be attending college, not the parents.

    missypie--your posts focus on the things that your son has achieved and aspires to accomplish (non-helicopter), while most helicopter posts seem to focus on "how dare this or that not go the way the PARENT thinks it should."

    It is just my guess, but if the college highly recommends the parent letter, they want one.
  • ignatiusignatius Posts: 2,202Registered User Senior Member
    We had to write one at the hs private school level. My husband wrote it and then I read over it and suggested a few changes. Good letter (about a page) - and thinking about it, it permitted glimpses into my son's personality that wouldn't necessarily be remarked on in a teacher recommendation. My husband concentrated less on what the school could deduce about my son from test scores and ecs, but about his personal strengths and, yes, weaknesses. We (son and parents) chose the hs because it was a good match (boy to school, school to boy), and that came across in the letter.

    Davidson used to ask for a peer recommendation. My d wrote one for a friend, and a friend wrote one for my d. I thought that was also a way to get a glimpse of the applicant from a different pov.
  • oldfortoldfort Posts: 16,733Registered User Senior Member
    We gushed. We wrote to two schools. I think it just gives adcom a different perspective of the applicant. I believe one's relationship with parents defines the person more than anything else. I gave the letter to our daughter later and she cried.
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Posts: 2,707Registered User Senior Member
    I've never been asked to write one for a college, but our GC asks us to respond to a couple of prompts along the lines of: what is your favorite memory involving your child? What is their best character trait? and a couple of others.

    I ended up writing about a preschool experience with her, and reflecting on an evaluation by that teacher. Nothing about her IQ, but a lot about her approach to life that showed up very early. It was just a few sentences. My point is that creating a prompt for yourself that isn't "how to make my kid look wonderful" but more about responding to the idea that you know your child in a way that no teacher, GC or coach does is key.
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Posts: 2,707Registered User Senior Member
    ^^oldfort, wonderful! My D read mine as well. I don't think we can tell them too many times the ways that they are unique and loved by us.
  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap Posts: 11,628Registered User Senior Member
    I wrote one. The admissions rep told My D's high school GC it was what he remembered. My D never comes to college confidential, but after I spent some time here, I felt she didn't appreciate the nuances of her high school situation (essentially how she became passionate about a high school WE had concerns about).
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