additional rec letter question (regular decision)

Ok! So I applied to vandy under RD back in november, with the required counselor rec & two teacher recs. I’m sure my counselor rec was good, she’s wonderful and we have a good relationship. I read one of the teacher recs and it was pretty solid and my counselor told me the other one was strong as well. I wanted to submit an additional letter from my cross-country coach since I did cross-country all four years while dealing with a pretty serious injury. She loved my whole grade (there were 20 of us on the team this year) and I think she liked me a lot as well (she gives 4-5 awards to seniors, 3 of which are captains (I am not), each year and she gave me the award for “outstanding commitment” so from that and what I’ve heard about her other letters I’m assuming it at least isn’t hurting me.

Now the complicated part. I participate in the admissions team at my school, interviewing potential new students, and I do a write up of each applicant since my opinion is considered equally with the faculty interviewers. Because of this insight and how hard I work for admissions my mom really wants me to ask the director of admissions for an additional letter as well (this is now way after I’ve submitted my application). I think I’d be ok with asking her about this, my counselor doesn’t think it will hurt anyway, and she is a vanderbilt parent. However I now might have a big issue: my uncle is a vanderbilt alum so I’ve been talking to him every now and then about the school. earlier today my dad threw me for a loop when he told me that my uncle had offered to write me a letter of recommendation and he had agreed to it (without consulting me but that’s a different issue). He is an alumni interviewer so I assume he knows a lot about vanderbilt would be looking for and they might be more familiar with him than any random alum but also he’s my uncle–even if his letter was completely unbiased I don’t feel that it would add anything to my application. additionally, from what I understand from my dad since I haven’t spoken to my uncle lately is that he wants to mainly use my resume for the letter. also we talk on the phone a decent amount but he lives far away so we haven’t seen him for about 5 years (so all of my time in high school)

I would not submit both of these if I chose to do another letter because that just seems to be a ridiculous amount–at a certain point they have to get repetitive and are just creating too much work for my admissions rep. I’ve done a lot of research and can’t seem to find anything vanderbilt specific about family rec letters but my gut feeling is that at best it would do nothing for my application and at worst it might hurt me or it would do nothing and the admissions one would have done something more.

also to consider: I think my application is very strong, I’m in the mid 50% for test scores (1460/33) and my gpa is a 94.5 (this fall semester was a 96.5 which was my highest ever although I had a 79 in AP stat, everything else was high As (at my school ap’s are weighted with 7 extra pts for gpa)). I take 4 APs and took 2 last year and am very involved–my interviewer said that I seemed involved in a lot but motivated to do well in each of those activities and I think that is true–there is nothing on my resume that I’ve done just to look good.

thank you so much for reading this and I would appreciate any feedback!!

If you submit a letter, go with director of admissions. A letter from your uncle won’t offer anything new to your application other than “I like my niece” - which is unhelpful and looks like nepotism. A director of admissions can comment on your qualities in an academic and extracurricular setting.

That being said, it is true you should be careful about submitting another letter - if I’m reading your post correctly, you’ve already submitted one additional rec from your cross country coach. If that’s correct, think carefully about the director of admissions letter and whether it can offer anything new to your application that wasn’t in your teacher, counselor, or coach letters. It can’t just be a “good, won’t hurt you” letter - it needs to speak to positive things they couldn’t have learned of otherwise that will really help you and strengthen your candidacy for admission. If you don’t think the director of admissions letter can do that, just don’t submit an extra letter.

Best of luck to you!

This was very helpful in convincing my dad, thank you so much for your opinion!!

Letter from Uncle alum. Definite mistake in my opinion. Please don’t! High numbers of Vandy alum sons and daughters do not get into Vandy each year, esp from places like Texas Alabama and Georgia where so many middle aged Vandy grads with great kids reside now. This is a huge disappointment to Vandy alum since their sons and daughters are often qualified and more qualified than they themselves were back in the day. Only reason that Vandy parents are disappointed sometimes re their son or daughter being waitlisted or denied is because Vandy’s incoming class is representation of the nation and not just the region now and stats are super high.

Re the extra letter…if you have a sentence or two on your Admissions work for your high school on your resume, that may be enough said. However, if you feel that your Admissions director can say something singular about your qualities, I do not think that letter can harm your application but it might be perceived as a reach at this date. Lots of students work as greeters, tour guides and admissions committee reps and the admissions team at Vandy understands the scope of this contribution.

In my view the only updates should be significant awards received in January February and March and those should be sent in memo form only and asked to be placed in your admissions folder.