Episode 116: Getting a Remarkable College Recommendation Letter

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For those of you still debating which college your teenager should attend next fall, let us remind you, one more time, to take a look at Episodes 69, 70, 71, and 114–all of which aim to help you sort through some of the issues you might be facing in choosing the best college for your teenager. We wish you the best during this often stressful time–and, if you need an outside perspective, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Seriously.

Well, we thought about taking this week off to enjoy everyone else’s spring break. But last week, I read a great opinion piece in The New York Times entitled “Check This Box If You’re a Good Person,” and I thought we should share it with you in case you missed it. The author is Rebecca Sabky, who works in admissions at Dartmouth College. Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth is the smallest of the Ivy League institutions. I think that “Check This Box If You’re a Good Person” can fairly be called “a feel-good piece,” and I believe that we could all use that right now.

For those of you with freshmen, sophomores, or juniors at home, this piece will definitely give you an idea you never had before–and that’s saying something when it comes to the subject of college recommendations. So, sit back and think outside the box with us.

1. Ms. Sabky’s Piece

Because Ms. Sabky did such a good job of writing her short personal piece, I am simply going to read it to you. I don’t want to mess it up, and it doesn’t need any further explanation from us. By the way, this piece is part of the On Campus series in the Times?”dispatches from college students, professors and administrators on higher education and university life” (quoted from the website). So, listen to the podcast or follow this link to read the article.

As a parent, I feel exactly the way Ms. Sabky does. Raising a kind and generous child is every bit as important as raising a super-smart one. In the case of this Dartmouth applicant, his parents clearly got both!

2. Think Outside the Box!

So, think outside the box when it comes to your teenager’s college recommendations. We are not saying that an unusual off-the-beaten-track recommendation takes the place of recommendations from teachers, who can judge your teenager’s academic abilities–probably especially when applying to highly selective colleges. But an additional recommendation–when one is allowed by the college–that can shed light on your teenager’s personal traits and values could, evidently, end up being priceless.

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