Thinking About Letters of Recommendation

So, it’s the summer before your senior year, college applications loom in your future, and everyone is telling you to spend the summer working on college essays. While it’s not a bad idea to devote some time to this project, an often overlooked portion of the college application is the letter of recommendation. At Whitman, we only require one letter of recommendation, but many schools do require more. It would behoove you to think about which teachers would make the best letter writers for your Whitman application. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Which teacher have I gotten to know the best in the last three years?
  2. Who could best speak to my ability as both a student and a person?
  3. How well could this teacher speak to my academic drive?

Hopefully, the same teacher’s name will answer all three of these questions. If you are submitting more than one letter of recommendation, it would benefit your application to have the teachers who could address these questions write letters for you.

You will also want to consider the academic subjects your letters writers represent. Whitman’s teacher recommendation requires you to submit your one letter of recommendation from a core academic teacher – meaning someone who taught you math, science, social studies, English, or a foreign language. If you submit more than one letter, be sure that these letters are not from two English or two math teachers. Most likely, teachers of the same subject will say very similar things about you, so submitting one English teacher recommendation and one math teacher recommendation would provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are as a student. Be sure to pick people with varied perspectives. When I applied to Whitman, I had my physics and my English teachers write letters. At the end of the day, you want to find the one (or two) who will best represent you.


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