>Does anybody know a site to get a good overview of writing college admission
>recommendations for high school students. I've been writing these for
>years, but feel what I write is repetitive and worn out.
>I have two to do tonight and I question the ability of both students,
>although I would never say that in a letter. It gets harder and harder to
>write these things.
>Any guide lines?
Patty, the following was sent to me recently by our college counselor.
Hope it helps.
10 TIPS FOR WRITING LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION:
1. Review a copy of the applicant's personal statement or
application essays so that your letter of recommendation can dovetail with
- not conflict with or duplicate - the rest of the application.
2. Ask the applicant to supply you with additional information like
a résumé or activity list.
3. Describe your qualifications for comparing the applicant to
I have been teaching high school drama for fifteen years and have
taught AP English for the last five years.
I have personally supervised ten research interns every summer for
the last five years plus, I have coached the cross-country and tennis teams
at Elite High School for the last five years.
4. Discuss how well you know the applicant.
I had the pleasure of directing plays in which John starred during
each of his three years at ABC High School.
Over the last three years I coached Jane as she worked her way up
from JV to varsity tennis and state champion.
5. Choose two to three qualities that you observed in the applicant.
Jane has a rare blend of steely determination, incredible
self-discipline, and great teamwork skills.
The combination of tenacity, leadership qualities, and good
communications skills found in John is truly unique.
6. In discussing those qualities, support your statements with
specific instances in which he or she demonstrated those attributes. Be as
concrete and detailed as possible.
John's discipline and dedication were extraordinary - not only did
he never miss a practice; he came early to warm up and always worked out
for an additional hour after school.
Jane not only participated in every rehearsal; she also made
herself available to other actors and actresses for impromptu rehearsals
and practices, thus inspiring the rest of the cast to even greater efforts
7. Try to quantify the student's strengths or rank him or her
vis-à-vis other applicants that you have observed.
He was in the top 10% of his class.
She has the best analytical skills of any high school senior I have
8. Avoid generalities and platitudes.
9. Include some mild criticism, typically the flip-side of a strength.
The only fault I have encountered in him is his retiring nature.
His modesty sometimes hides a young man of remarkable strength and broad
Occasionally, her fortitude and persistence can turn into
stubbornness, but usually her good nature and level-headedness prevail.
10. Close with a ringing recommendation and endorsement of the
applicant's ability. I enthusiastically recommend Mr. Doe to your
university. This well-rounded student will be a fine asset to your student
With her exceptional leadership, writing, and quantitative skills,
Ms. Smith will be an outstanding credit to the college she attends.