How many Recommendations?

Keep it simple folks! Give the application what it asks for. Typically a college requests recommendations from:

  • one guidance counselor and
  • one or two teachers,
  • and nothing more…

At this point, hopefully, you have created positive relationships with a few teachers whom you can ask for a recommendation. The teachers should be from junior or senior year, who taught you core courses (i.e., Math, English, Science) or if you are applying to a special program, i.e., music or art, then you would include those teacher recommendations as well.

According to University of Virgina’s  Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions Jeannine Lalonde  admissions blog :

“Colleges ask for the items they would like to receive.  We like having the counselor and teacher perspectives in the application, We always say that we’ll read a supplemental recommendation if you feel like there’s something else we need to know, but repetition is not needed.  In fact, when reading 28,000 applications, repetition can be a bit tedious at times”

Over the years, I have written recommendations for students that I have known through scouts, family friends, etc.  They are often for scholarship applications, an internship program or a job, but rarely are they for a supplement to the college application. Since it often takes several hours to write a great letter advocating a student’s application you don’t want to “use up your favors”, especially if the school does not want additional recommendations.

There’s a saying in admissions, “the thicker the file, the thicker the applicant”.  Remember, don’t pad your application and be sure to send a thank you note (homemade cookies, etc) to your teachers and guidance counselor who took the time to say nice things about you. It is particularly appropriate to send the note around the holidays when most of the application pressure is behind everyone and before you know the outcome. :)