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Harvard - Balanced Recs?

zogotozogoto Registered User Posts: 2,464 Senior Member
edited October 2005 in College Admissions
I am a fairly hardcore math/sci person, but I still get pretty good grades in English/Social Studies (like top 3 or something per class). I can get two outstanding recommendations from science teachers (one I had jr year, one soph year, but I keep in touch very well,visiting them often), or one of the outstanding science teachers ones and another from an english teacher which probably wouldn't be AMAZING, but it wouldn't be anything negative. It may seem obvious, "go with the better recommendations," but I don't want to seem too one-sided in my application, and even though the english rec may not be brilliant, it will show that I am at least semi-competent in english and humanities and am not a total bimbo in those.

What do I do?
Post edited by zogoto on

Replies to: Harvard - Balanced Recs?

  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,801 Senior Member
    How not amazing are we talking here? Make an appointment to talk to your English/Social Studies teachers honestly about this dilemma, and ask them whether they feel they can get behind you and write a strong rec with a clear conscience. If you were an A or A minus student, and they liked you, they may be willing to push for you harder than you realize, even if you aren't the biggest English star in the class. If you have a good counselor at school who knows the teachers well, the counselor may be able to give you some idea of whether those teachers generally play favorites, write a lot of strong recs, or what.

    If there's a risk that the English teacher is just going to write, "He's a nice kid and I gave him a good grade, I think you should admit him" go with the two science recs. After all, if you're competitive for Harvard, your grades in English and Social Studies should make it clear that you are at least semi-competent whether you have an English rec or not.
  • tawnytawny Registered User Posts: 802 Member
    why not send in all 3 (1 can be a supplemental rec)?
  • Spetsnaz OpSpetsnaz Op Registered User Posts: 870 Member
    history? I'm not sending any english recs (at least I don't plan to) but then again i'm Engi and thinking of sending a history rec
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,801 Senior Member
    I'm treating all humanities/social studies recs as one category. The key is that this is a teacher who's evaluated your expository writing (unlike a science or math teacher, unless you went to an unusually sophisticated high school).
  • zogotozogoto Registered User Posts: 2,464 Senior Member
    I would sent all three with one as supplemental but I already have 1 from a mentor at harvard, 1 from RSI, and 1 from a math professor, so idk..
  • zogotozogoto Registered User Posts: 2,464 Senior Member
    Ahh sorry to bring this thread back up, but I called Harvard and they said that if I have two science, I should have one english or something, but then I asked if 1 science 1 math was ok, and they said yes and that it wouldn't be a disadvantage.

    Will it really not be disadvantageous? This is realllly important since my English would not measure up to my science ones (I've never gotten really close to an English teacher and haven't done like superb in any of those classes), but I already have like 4 math/sci recs even without this last teacher rec. What should I do??
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    The adcoms have no reason to lie to you.

    What would help you from what I've seen of our stats and ECs would be a recommendation that shows another side of you than math and science. Now, if you are such an amazing math/science person that you are head and shoulders above even most of the strongest applicants with strengths in those fields, you might be OK.

    However, if you are not, it would help to have something that shows another facet of your interests and abilities. All of the students whom I've seen get in have at least 2 major strengths in very different fields.

    For instance, a student might be a national level math competitor and also be a national level humanities competitor or musician or a student might be a national level award winner in history plus an Eagle Scout.

    Since I don't get to see many Harvard applicants since relatively few apply from my region, I am sure that there are applicants who get in without the attributes that I describe. However, if you have something that you've pursued that is unrelated to math/science, it would be good to highlight that in your application, too. If possible, have one of your 4 (no more than 4!) recommedations reflect that.

    If you don't have what I'm suggesting, apply anyway. You may be one of those students so very strong in math/science that you get in although you don't have other strengths. Because of the large numbers of immigrants' offspring who are exceptional in math and science, however, the competition for admission with those kind of strengths is more difficult than for those whose strengths are in something like history, Greek or art.
  • blawblaw Registered User Posts: 449 Member
    I'd say apply to MIT, Caltech, and Princeton.
    They'd care about your outstanding math and science,
    esp if your recos will talk about research pursuits
    and original work.
  • zogotozogoto Registered User Posts: 2,464 Senior Member
    I am applying to all three of those RD, but Harvard EA
This discussion has been closed.