Helpful extra letter of recomendation?

^^ Got it. However, on another thread, the OP acknowledges they applied to Yale SCEA and was deferred. So, Yale liked the OP’s profile, but didn’t feel strongly enough about them to admit in the SCEA round --despite the OP’s high SAT score and GPA. It will be interesting to see if Harvard feels the same way in the RD round given the OP is IMHO trying to court Harvard with an additional LoR from a family friend that happens to have been a Harvard Admissions officer/professor. See:,

Well, I assumed you had already submitted the letter or I would have said that, unless the recommender worked with you in some way, the letter might hurt more than help. It is always good to try to progress on your own merits, rather than connections, anyway- in theory at least. The calculus issue would not seem to me to be as big an obstacle as some seem to think, in light of other accomplishments. I hope you did a music supplement with recording and resume and one or two letters from teachers. Those are the kinds of “extra” letters that help. Or at least a letter from one of your other EC’s.

Got it. I was deferred before I received the publication as co-author. I did indeed send recordings and resumes for my music accomplishments. The additional letter of rec was addressed in a way that made it clear the writer has know me for a while and has a grasp on my personality. I believe that it is more than an “extra” letter and has merits in showcasing another aspect of me. As for the Calc grade, it is the only grade I have made below an A and I believe an explanation from both the teacher and my councilor on the mid year report would be sufficient?

I don’t see the major. If it’s stem, you need stem strengths and ECs. Didn’t you previously say a B in another physics course and history? And I don’t see school ECs. A peer reviewed publication is not the same as a professional journal. Even if you aren’t stem, this is light on ECs.

Harvard doesn’t need an extra letter to attest to your personality. That should have come through in your other letters and your own self presentation. I agree it can seem grasping at straws. You haven’t worked with this person, presumably he can only speak to your nice kid aspects. Or your parenting. Did you see the letter?

No B’s. Pulled them all up except for Calc. Major is English/Music. I’m not sure what you mean by the professional journal. This is a professional peer reviewed journal with a relatively high impact factor for a high school student. I was just hoping that the letter would pull some weight due to the guy being “in” the Harvard circle. I agree that I’m grasping but I already have good traditional letters of rec from actual teachers and only used this one because maybe he knows someone who knows someone…

In the high school world, peer reviewed generally means other hs kids. I.e., your peers. If this is different, good.

What’s done is done. It’s possible your music will pull you through. But now everyone waits for Ivy Day.

@canoeriver123 : I am wondering how you can do “7 other APs this year”. Some people might think you are “too intense”. Our school district recently has one admitted to Harvard SCEA. A Juilliard level musician. (Juilliard level can be confirmed when comparing with another person who actually study at Juilliard now.) Another one in the recent past is specialized in politics. No STEM kids. Why are you taking Calculus BC without AB? What other AP courses are you taking? I hope your publication is not STEM related. Watch to see if you can tell why she got admitted. IMHO, it is her poems.

Misspoke- 7 total APs. Took BC because I would have taken it at my previous school had I stayed and councilor just merged my classes in adding a few. Applying to Juilliard but it’s very subjective. There’s really no “Juilliard level” as the worst person there is a lot different from the best. All I can say are my awards and performances are quite heavy relative to the normal music applicant. Research is done on public health.

In that case, your file might be categorized as potential premed. So your AP Calculus BC will count, adding in your previous record of " I have had all As except for a B in one semester of Advanced Physics and another B in one semester of AP World History." makes your app not convincing. Downward trend is among the worst enemies for premed. From Alabama does help you to a certain degree. Changing school in senior year is also a factor. (no long-term relationships with teachers/GC) I can see the reason why you would like to have another recommendation letter. It might help you in my opinion.

FYI, those are winning poem/writing for Harvard admissions … but she starts to take computer science courses …

Now what are you assuming? OP said English and music. No adcom will say, 'Asian…wants premed." Public health is a common enough interest among humanities kids for many reasons. Certainly nothing that shows a picture leaning toward medicine. Nor poetry.

At this point, leave the decision to Harvard.

Btw, one of those links is an ad for a clothing line.

Let’s not get off-topic from the poster’s question, please. I’ve edited out the strange YouTube link

@canoeriver123 : If you are truly a humanity major, why are you taking AP Calculus BC? Public health is science (STEM). ( Your intended major is not consistent with the rest of your profile. Your “research” has no relationship with your music/English major. Nobody is good at everything. Maybe you are an exception. If you have declared your premed intention in your essays, it might be better (premed can be humanity major), but I seriously doubt it.

To the OP, while I agree with others that the extra letter from the former Harvard Admissions Officers shouldn’t be helpful in a truly fair and just world, my understanding is that it may actually be helpful. I agree that the colleges most want academic teachers’ recommendations, for the reasons outlined. However, I have heard from a variety of well-connected sources at two ivies that these types of extra letters never hurt and might help. I know it is already sent, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in your case. Ha ha ha, perhaps sadly, my child does not have someone to write this type of letter for them, and overall I think we’d be uncomfortable with it anyway, but that does not mean I think they are utterly ineffective. I’m sure the effectiveness, though, depends on whether this individual is still close with people in the AO and has their respect,
how much power they had, and if this person writes 10 letters a year for kids like you, or just writes one letter every few years, how much they are making a case for you, etc.

I also wouldn’t read too much into getting deferred from another school EA…we all know there are kids who get deferred or rejected from schools we all would presume would be “easier” to get into, and then get accepted to schools we think should be harder…there are some elements that appear fairly random to us observers, so I don’t think that should worry you too much. Good luck to all!

@lookingforward wrote:

In the scientific world, a peer reviewed publication means a lot. In particular this means that the paper was sent to a group of peers. The editor will pick scientists who have done similar type of research in the past, and ask them to review it (usually anonymously). Then after the feedback is received, the editor then makes a decision to accept/reject/revise. The peer in this sense is another scientist, usually an expert in his/her field.

There are also examples of non-peer reviewed scientific work: mainly posters and abstracts from conferences. These are also important, but viewed as less merit worthy vs peer reviewed stuff.

Going thru peer review is like getting your teeth pulled without anesthesia. It is an arduous process and sometimes takes months. Really surprising that a high school student could pull this off. But it seems like the student was one of the secondary authors. The first author is usually a university academic. Even still this is a really impressive accomplishment for a high schooler.

@sgopal2 my concern was that, in this context, peer review is other hs students, not an expert, with years behind him or her. There are many online journals where hs kids can get something published, not reviewing at the level of professional to professional. OP didn’t clarify.

Peer reviewed scientific journal with impact factor 3.25. Named second author (co-author) with a professor as corresponding author. Definitely not other kids lol. It was a professional environment.

@lookingforward: In the science world, everyone knows what peer review entails. But if someone as respected as you is confused by it, then it means that other admissions readers might be as well. I agree that the word ‘peer’ is somewhat confusing in this context.

In an application, the journal can be named. Lots of kids on CC focus on “published” and many are hs peer reviewed. So, the confusion.

Most AOs don’t have STEM background. To people who do have STEM background, those “publications” by HS kids are stuff mostly sponsored by their parents/college admissions counselors/etc. Only privileged kids have access to those “research”. Even the undergrad research done for medical school applications themselves don’t have much values. It is the lab techniques learned and the exposure to the research process which have values. The publication itself usually does not have value. (if it does have value, you don’t need to go to college, find a VC and start a company.)