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Rude to not submit a teacher's recommendation?

meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
So my plan was to ask 2 of my science teachers and another humanities teacher for my references for college admissions, and then pick one of the two from science. I'd wanted to do this because I was pretty certain that these teachers would be okay with me seeing the letter before they sent them in, and then at that point I'd just choose the better one. Here's my predicament:

-The first teacher I asked-- let's call him Mr. X-- told me that he would be happy to write me one and would want to sit down with me together to edit it. Said he'll do anything to help me be successful.

-The second teacher I asked-- Mr. Y-- said yes as well and that he'll send me the draft so that I can edit.

I feel like Mr. X knows me better - I had his class last year and I am in his class right now, and I've also done some independent labs with him in my spare time.

I asked Mr. Y because he brought up once in a conversation that he wants to write me a letter. I thought, if he offered to write me one, he must really feel like he has good things to say about me.

So I asked them both. But of course, I can only submit one. At this point Mr. Y has given me a draft, and it's not that great - the praise is all glowing, but there isn't much anecdotal stuff there because he truly didn't know me THAT well. On the spot when he showed me and asked me what I needed edited, I asked for him to think of more specific examples of where I'd demonstrated the qualities he'd mentioned.

I haven't followed up with Mr. X on his, since I haven't had much time and I also don't really know what to do about this situation lol..

The problem here is that Mr. Y and Mr. X are next door and also know each other very well. When I'm talking to Mr. Y about my reference, Mr. X hears everything essentially, and vice versa. Because of this I'm not really comfortable working with both on my letters and then only sending one of them in...

I want to continue working with Mr. X on mine, and if I'm only planning on sending his in, I don't want to waste Mr. Y's time and also have that awkward conversation at the end of it like, oh just kidding, I don't want to use your letter. I'm using Mr. X's instead, who's your close friend... and you've heard everything I've said to him while working on my letter. yeah. awkward.

So in essence what I want to do here is let Mr. Y know that I don't need his letter anymore, even though he's already written up a draft AND I've asked him to edit it. But Mr. X hasn't gotten me a draft yet, and I haven't followed up asking.. so I don't want to drop Mr. Y's letter yet in case Mr. X's isn't as good.. Right now I could

1. Continue following up with Mr. Y and get him to edit the letter until it's better. Also follow up with Mr. X and get him to get down a draft to see how it is. Don't like this because I'm still juggling the both of them when I only intend to use one. Is this rude, or are teachers used to this? Also don't like this because they can both hear me when I'm working with either of them.

2. Continue following up with Mr. Y, and get him to finish the letter first. Then go to Mr. X and work on his. But still only choose one. At least it's not AS awkward because I'm not working with both at the same time?

3. Only follow up with Mr. Y and just tell Mr. X that I don't need his anymore, even though I feel Mr. X could write me a better one. Just gotta suck it up cuz I messed up asking them both in the first place?

4. Tell Mr. Y that I don't need HIS anymore because I'm gonna use Mr. X's. Ugh, that feels so bad lol. Also Mr. X hasn't written a draft yet so maybe that's not a smart move.

5. Ask them to work on it together??? I know them both well and they know each other well, so? ? ? /

6. Get both of the letters but use one for a different school or a scholarship or something so that the one I don't end up choosing isn't wasted?

I dunno. Sorry for long post.

I have a lot of respect for both of these teachers and the last thing I want (even moreso than getting rejected from college) is to come off as disrespectful. I'm trying to balance the emotional part of it and the practical part of it, because I (and I know they too) really want the best for my admissions chances. What do?
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Replies to: Rude to not submit a teacher's recommendation?

  • billcshobillcsho 18315 replies91 threads Senior Member
    Are you applying to only one school and it is not on CommonApp?
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  • pkchamp89pkchamp89 612 replies0 threads Member
    edited September 2017
    TBH... it's is strange that you have so much input and influence with the teachers who are writing your recommendations. Did you waive your FERPA rights for the common app?

    I think you should let them both write recommendations since you asked them both and they have already put time into the drafts. Let them submit them to guidance and let guidance pick the strongest one. Some colleges alllow 1-3 teacher recommendations depending on the school. So maybe they both can be helpful.
    edited September 2017
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  • soontobecollegersoontobecolleger 539 replies49 threads Member
    At my school the college counselor told us it was policy that we could not even see the letters at all. If you can edit your letters like that, why not just write your own rec and have them sign off on it? Like the whole thing sounds weird
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  • jym626jym626 57683 replies3023 threads Senior Member
    Your teachers are letting you edit your own LOR? That’s highly unusual, to say the least.
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    edited September 2017
    @pkchamp89 I'm an international student so my teachers are probably not as used to this process. Either way they are both just trying to be as helpful as they can, so they're letting me have input on the drafts.

    Thanks for the advice! :) I think that's what I'll do. Never thought of having them submit to counselor
    edited September 2017
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @billcsho Applying ED, yes commonapp.
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  • billcshobillcsho 18315 replies91 threads Senior Member
    Once you invited them on CommonApp, they can upload the letter s directly. Then it is up to you which one to add to your application. They would not know if you use it or not.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35380 replies399 threads Senior Member
    "so that I can edit."
    "Mr. Y has given me a draft, and it's not that great - the praise is all glowing, but there isn't much anecdotal stuff there because he truly didn't know me THAT well."

    How do you know what makes a great letter? What makes you think it needs lots of anecdotal? Most kids do not know. This is about an adult educator 'speaking' to other adult educators (adcoms.) Yes, you can ensure they note classroom strengths and personal attributes, (as opposed to just listing ECs or inconsequential things like, "does her homework.") But that's a conversation, not presuming to edit. And adcoms are often reading *between the lines.*
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @lookingforward because I knew I would have to help my teachers a lot with the process given that I'm international and they wouldn't be used to doing this, I did a lot of research online and have read a couple of blog posts form Admissions Officers saying that the strongest letters have anecdotes and specific examples.

    I guess when I say 'so that I can edit', I might sound a bit rude + ignorant, but I mean really is working with them so that I can get what I want to be portrayed portrayed - they're not gonna accept lies in the letter or anything..
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @billcsho are you sure? On my commonapp page, the invite to teacher recs are under the pages of specific colleges..
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  • bjkmombjkmom 7948 replies160 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    PLEASE, please, please-- waive your right to see those letters!!!

    Colleges are well aware of the helicopter mom phenomenon. They rightfully assume that, if you have access to your letter, it will be much easier for teachers to sugarcoat what they would normally say... who need the hassle from a parent? Those letters that you've had access to are virtually useless.

    Strong recommendations that a student has seen are fluff. Those same recommendations, if the student has waived their right to access, are a strong vote in the kids' favor.

    If you trust a teacher enough to write you a letter, let him or her do the job they do every single year: write a letter that tells the college what it needs to know.

    You don't give us nearly enough credit as a profession. If you want to provide your teachers with anecdotes and specific examples, then great, do it. Most schools have a "brag sheet" for precisely that purpose. But please don't assume that your circumstances are so very unique that your teachers need you to do their job for them.

    Letters of recommendation from a teacher are supposed to be exactly that-- THEIR thoughts, words, impressions of your performance. The rest of the application is all you, this is supposed to be someone else's take on your performance. You should not be seeing it, editing it, commenting on it.
    edited September 2017
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  • billcshobillcsho 18315 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Have you read the instruction?

    https://www.commonapp.org/resource/recommendation-process
    https://appsupport.commonapp.org/link/portal/33011/33013/Article/797/How-do-I-assign-my-recommenders

    Invite and assign are separated processes. You can see the link to invite teacher under any school but they are linked to that school applucation only after you assigned them.
    edited September 2017
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35380 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Adcoms know international LoR writers may not know the ideal. They can work with that. This is different than a US teacher who is too brief, too generic, or rambles on.

    It's not so much anecdotes as an example or two, to clarify. If he/she wants to say you're a top student, he can give a detail. Eg, that you read ahead or show analytical thinking. It depends.

    HS kids generally don't know how adults tend to communicate with each other. Be careful.
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  • CValleCValle 788 replies69 threads Member
    She is INTERNATIONAL. It is VERY possible that her teachers have NEVER been asked to write a recommendation before. In this scenario it is quite possible that she is much more aware of what US colleges expect from a recommendation than her teachers are. If she didn't work with the teachers it is quite possible she would get a letter along the lines of "She took X class. She got Y grade."
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35380 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Then she can give her teachers a copy of the tips some colleges put out (she's seen some of these.) As a teen, she doesn't know how to best produce the actual final product, either.
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @lookingforward alright, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to reply because I didn't think this was conductive to me anymore, but I can't help but point out that you repeatedly state I can't possibly know better because I'm a 'kid' or a 'teen'. By definition, my age does not give me any more or less intellect or experience on this subject matter than my teachers. I have read numerous posts about good letters and have read many examples of letters written, some with comments by AOs on them. I don't pretend to be a know it all, but to dismiss the fact that I could be helpful to the process because I am a 'kid' is frustrating, to say the least. 'Kids' get it a lot - you're young, so you mustn't have anything valuable to contribute. As a teen who strives to independently learn and problem solve and who has often been left to do that-- and I always remain humbled that there is something to learn from everyone around me, despite whatever-- being flat out rejected on the condition of my age is.. tiring.
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @bjkmom thanks, I see now why my suggestions for edits could be seen as rude - I don't have the intention to imply that my teachers don't know what they're doing. They have both voluntarily offered for me to edit the letters, but I will make it clear to them that I respect whatever they write :)
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  • meiyuemeiyue 23 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @billcsho yes (or no, but even after reading that), but I have heard that after you assign your recommenders to colleges, then they need to upload their letter to each of the colleges you've assigned them to. (heard from a redditor teacher who'd been uploading recs via commonapp). I guess the easiest thing to do would be to email and ask..

    also side note - did you see the rating for that faq page? lol 0.5 stars.
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  • anxiousenior1anxiousenior1 1074 replies57 threads Senior Member
    No, they do not upload their letter to every college in the Common App. I don't know who you've heard that from, but that's flat out wrong. Your teachers upload their letters, once. Then, you can pick and choose which colleges will receive which letter.
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