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Applying for physics without a STEM teacher letter of recommendation?

qmgrtofqmgrtof 2 replies2 threads New Member
For schools that only have 2 teacher letters of rec (true for Yale, where I'm applying EA), I will have letters from my APUSH and AP Lang teachers, not any stem teachers.

My history teacher will give me a great rec, I was very focused in class, helped in all debates, highest grades on tests, worked hard, etc. I just asked my English teacher (freshman english and AP Lang jr year) to write me the second letter for Yale, because he also really liked me and definitely think's I'm smart. I also wrote a lot of essays on physics, and have talked to him about being interested in science.

I was debating between asking him and my Comp Sci teacher (for four yrs of cs classes, including both Aps ), but he seems less impressed with me overall and I've sort of goofed off in his classes. He likes me as a person, and knows I've done a lot of college math, but I don't think he think's I'm super smart (here, I'm specifically worried about those "top 5%", "top few" rankings in the common app "teacher evaluation" form. I know my english teacher would rate me top few in almost all of them, not so sure for cs).

I can't ask a math or physics teacher because taken those subjects online since sophomore year, and my chemistry teacher left the school system two years ago. I was thinking of explaining this somewhere in my app if I do just have humanities letters..?

Outside of teacher letters, I'll have a letter from a Yale professor (from a summer program), and for colleges that accept more than one outside letter, I'll also have one from an model rocket internship. My extracurriculars are also very stem/physics focused, and I've done well in college math and physics classes. This makes me think two humanities letters of rec might be ok..especially if there are more about my work ethic and personality, and don't need to prove my abilities in STEM.

Essentially, is a good but less-glowing recommendation from a CS teacher better than a great letter from an English teacher? Will I be hurting my chances by not having any STEM teacher letters?
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Replies to: Applying for physics without a STEM teacher letter of recommendation?

  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2350 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Well, as Yale itself says:

    "So what matters most in your application? Ultimately, everything matters. The good news in that is that when so many little things figure into an admissions decision, it is fruitless to worry too much about any one of them."

    So I would take their advice insofar as your Yale application goes.

    There are other places where it very well might hurt to be a STEM hopeful without a STEM LOR. Some colleges strongly suggest or even require a letter from a STEM teacher and one from a humanities teacher. If you get into Yale EA you don't have to worry about it. However, it is more likely than not that you will ultimately be applying to other colleges too, including matches and likely schools. So I would consider what their suggestions or requirements might be. If that means three carefully allocated and differently distributed LORs then perhaps you do that.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34507 replies383 threads Senior Member
    edited October 13
    Imagine a Yale adcom reading a stem app and not finding a stem teacher's commentary. Especially when there are another 1000 stem kids applying from your region.

    Better talk to that CS teacher, rather than speculating whether he'd be enthusiastic. Time's a-wastin'.

    No interaction with the online math or sci teachers?

    Read what Y says about supplemental letters.
    edited October 13
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1440 replies8 threads Senior Member
    https://admissions.yale.edu/advice-putting-together-your-application Take a look at what Yale says about LoR's and supplemental letters.
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