Recommendation letter from principal

Do colleges look at recommendation letter from the principal differently than recommendation letters from teachers? Is there any advantage of getting a principle’s recommendation letter adding on to the teachers’ recommendation letter and how does colleges value principle recommendation?

In my daughter’s case, the principal offered to write her recommendation letter in lieu of the recommendation letter from her guidance counselor. It came about because she had a new guidance counselor each of her four years in a large public high school. She was so frustrated that the time she had spent to cultivate a relationship with the GC every single year was all for naught. She asked the principal if she could reach out to the just-departed GC instead of the new GC who knows nothing about her. The principal said that would not be possible but kindly offered to write her rec letter instead. Her principal really went the extra mile. When she was deferred from Stanford REA, her principal even contacted the Stanford AO letting them know she is a top student. My daughter followed up with a LOCI and an update on mid-year grades, new awards and new research milestones. She was accepted RD and was over the moon.

To answer your questions, I think it could be a big positive if the principal were selective about which students they would write the recommendation and could speak knowledgeably about you and your accomplishments, but only if the same ground were not already covered in your teacher recommendations. Many colleges allow a third rec letter, so you can ask your principal to do that if it’s not possible to substitute the GC letter.

Of course, this is just our experience, YMMV. If your principal seems reluctant or hesitates, I would probably not push it.

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Thanks it really helped

I think the answer is…it depends. Some colleges are very specific about wanting letters from actual teachers who have had the student…and they also don’t want additional material.



would it be beneficial if the principal knows me well?

What is in the LOR is more important than who wrote it. No HS principal is going to have the clout to tip a student with a poorly written LOR. We don’t know if the principal is good at writing LORs or not. I do agree that it is better to replace the GC LOR than a teacher one.

I’m not sure of your exact question but here are some general comments:

–A LOR from a principal should never replace a teacher LOR (unless you actually had the principal as a teacher in a core subject class). The teacher LORs are expected to speak about you as a student in a classroom setting.

–If you have some kind of a special relationship with your HS principal (ex. through working together in a school activity, sport etc.) and he/she can say something about you that a classroom teacher and guidance counselor cannot then his/her letter could possibly be a supplemental LOR. Be sure that any supplemental letter (there should not be more than one) adds something new and meaningful to your application.

–Keep in mind that the college admissions officers are interested in you and your credentials…not so much the credentials of the person writing the LOR.