Additional letters of recommendation

<p>It seems that different colleges have different views about submitting additional letters of recommendation beyond the two teachers and GC letters. The impression we got from visiting some schools was that admissions staff are overwhelmed and do not want extra work, and would look upon an additional letter as a burden (something more to read after a long day).</p>

<p>What are your thoughts about including an additional letter of recommendation if you think it could really help your child? In particular, would you send one if a school mentions that "you can submit an extra letter, but we don't prefer it"?</p>

<p>Thanks.</p>

<p>Personally I think the number they require should be enough. There would have to be a very strong reason to add another. </p>

<p>I believe that if a school states "you can submit an extra letter, but we don't prefer it"? that you should honor that. Especially if you are hearing they are overwhelmed. Your good intentioned "extra" letter could send the admission package to the deny side.</p>

<p>I think part of what they are looking for is an ability to choose wisely, that's one of the reasons why there is a limit. My son could have submitted an extra letter but did not. I think it is far better to make less work for an admissions officer. </p>

<p>Possible exceptions might be one from a professor at the university, Nobel prize winner, etc.</p>

<p>Remember that reviewers only have roughly 15 minutes per app- all the detail, essays, 3 LoRs, transcripts, and including time to write comments and rate. Adcoms tend to let you make the decision- but, really, you want their focus on these. IME, there is no expectation to read any supplementals. Plus, the extra letter often doesn't add anything the adcoms haven't already clearly picked up in the CA and other LoRs. You don't need another letter from a teacher, state band director, senator, internship boss, etc. Rare exceptions. Who would write his 4th letter?</p>

<p>One issue with college profs and even Nobel prize winners is that they often don't have experience writing the sort of letters that teachers and GCs do- ie, that provide info adcoms find relevant about the kid.</p>

<p>You all make a compelling argument to not send an extra letter. In our situation, his GC hardly knows him, met with him once during 11th grade, told him to "google" info. on colleges, etc. She is not helpul, to say the least, so I imagine she will send the usual high school profile stuff, but not a lot of detailed info about him. </p>

<p>The letter in question would be from a college prof. at a local ivy, with whom my son spent the year doing an independent study. He really liked my son and took an interest in him, and gave him a glowing report at the end of the school year. He agreed to send a letter for him. I would hate to let this opportunity get away from my son, but again, don't know how to assess the admins. view of the value of such a letter vs. whether it would annoy them.</p>

<p>The usual guidelines (maybe it's on collegeboard?) are a teacher who knows him in and out of the classroom and can comment on several aspects. Some colleges also tackle this on their websites. I'd say, maybe you have a great reason to include this letter. But, the prof's letter should address issues relevant to adcoms. Eg, the maturity and work ethic of the usual college juniors and seniors I work with. It shouldn't be so long that a harried reviewer descides to skim or skip. Ideally, it will reflect some of the same sorts of positive comments in the teacher LoRs but from a prof's perspective. Many GC's by the way, don't know a kid so well, but poll teachers for comments and/or have the kid summarize his work, activities, strengths and interests. Good luck.</p>

<p>My older son sent two outside letters, my younger son none. The reason my older son sent two - he'd taken AP Comp Sci his freshman year and that was the last time he did anything computer science related at his high school, but he had worked two summers and during the school year for a company and really saved their butt on one project. We knew the boss of that company would be happy to write a stellar recommendation. He'd also done some volunteer programming for a med school professor, who specifically offered to write a letter and who had been so happy with the work that it my son was acknowledged in a couple of papers. Both recommenders were able to talk about my son's capabilities in a way that his school teachers didn't even have a clue about.</p>

<p>I think a letter from a professor with whom one had done independent study would be well worth having. The only school I know that won't read it is Stanford. BTW when a George Washington was asked this question, they said they read everything in the file (even the nine letters one student had, but they did think that was overkill!)</p>

<p>Thanks mathmom. It's helpful to get your perspective on how an additional letter can be used. It sounds like it was a good decision to include the letters for your son since they highlighted his abilities - not just a letter, for example, from a coach saying what a great kid he is.</p>

<p>It's usually a bad idea to send extra letters. Admissions staff, as they will happily tell you, are already very busy just doing the basic application reading and they may not nor are they under any obligation to read extra letters. When they're dealing with thousands of applications, it makes sense for them to strongly discourage any extra pieces of paper. </p>

<p>Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If you think the guidance counselor really won't be able to write a recc that will promote your son's full ability, then it would probably ok to send ONE extra letter. It seems like you've given this good though and the person you've mentioned is going to be able to really reveal something meaningful about your son, so it wouldn't hurt to send it. They may not read it in the first go-round, but if they get to the point where they're picking between one kid and your son, or if they have some questions about your son in one area or another, they may dig deeper into the file and then the letter will be in handy.</p>

<p>"The letter in question would be from a college prof. at a local ivy, with whom my son spent the year doing an independent study. He really liked my son and took an interest in him, and gave him a glowing report at the end of the school year. He agreed to send a letter for him. "
Then by all means - SEND IT!
DS had a letter from a senior scientist that he had done summer research with. That letter, which the scientist not only sent to the admission committees, but also to his colleagues at the colleges my son was applying to, was I believe, a big factor in why 14/15 top colleges accepted him. [ he received letters from quite a few dept chairman, encouraging him to come] He had no EA, ED , legacy or URM tips, and was accepted at every college, save one, that the CG thought would be a huge reach for him[ his stats made him very qualified, but with most of those colleges it was a crap shoot even then]</p>

<p>"The only school I know that won't read it is Stanford"
and that was the only school that rejected him[ but ironically, accepted him for grad school. In his application was another letter, from the same scientist!]</p>

<p>Agree with mathmom and menloparkmom: In this case, send the extra letter.</p>

<p>Thanks again. I clearly worry about creating problems by having him send something that would irritate an admissions reviewer. However, my gut says to go ahead and send it. </p>

<p>When I got into grad school (a long time ago, lol), I found out later that the tipping point in their decision process was the letter I got from a well-known professor. They figured that I must be OK if he gave me a recommendation.</p>

<p>" I clearly worry about creating problems by having him send something that would irritate an admissions reviewer."
A well written letter that gives more legitimate information and insight into an applicant will NOT "irritate" an admissions officer.</p>

<p>the kind of letters that "irritate" ad coms are those written by friends of the family, such as college alumni, who may not know the student well- in that case, a "thicker file" will not help an applicant.</p>