3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Teacher did recommendation letter before expected, need help ASAP

A great letter of recommendation needs to be based on a cheat sheet like a brag sheet, resume, between other things but, here is the concern I have:

- My teacher did the recommendation letter in less than a day

- He is an international teacher who does not know how the American culture remarkably does rec-letters for competitive schools

- He did the rec-letter without any reference, without any brag sheet or cheat sheet, guide nor with my resume because he didn't expect that information — I send him today all the information he needs to know on how to make great rec-letters by giving him the brag sheet, my resume, guides and examples of American rec-letters how are done. But, he told me he submitted yesterday to the common app my rec-letter and cannot be modified, in other words, I lose my chance of giving him a great foundation to make an astounding letter.

Any advice? Do you recommend I tell him to do it again? To be honest with this week foundation of the letter by lack of information and mixed with international American novices, I feel the rec-letter is quite not as expected and strong as supposed to be.


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago[edited]

Unfortunately, there is nothing that either you or your teacher can do at this point. He submitted it and uploaded it to your file so there it will remain until it is read by the colleges you applied to on the Common App.

Your assumption that great LORs have to reference a brag sheet or a cheat sheet is something incorrect. It's better to assume that all admissions officers can tell when an applicant's file looks too contrived or artificial. Each of them read hundreds of LORs and when they see a recommendation that reads like a regurgitation of one ECs and Honors, then they know that the Bio or English teacher was given a crib sheet to influence what they should write. Because let's face it, does any specific teacher know your life's story unless you are related to them? I don't know where you read that a great recommendation uses a formula based on brag sheets. The only caveat for that is if your recommender clearly has no idea who you are because you barely make your presence know in their classroom and have done nothing remarkable in their eyes for them to write about you. But giving such a person a brag sheet doesn't mean they can write something genuine and authentic about your character if they only have a list of accomplishments you've done outside of their classroom. It would be far more favorable to have a teacher who knows you well write on your behalf.

If I were an admissions officer, I'd much rather read that this applicant stood out in the class because they did this or that or showed compassion or empathy to another student or step into a leadership role when there was a vacuum. You are not the sum of your ECs or Honors and if your recommender turned around your recommendation in 1 day that is a good thing, not a bad thing. It means that you were memorable and he had something to say about your character in the absence of your brag sheet as you call it.

Now if he, had it on his desk for 4 weeks and he hadn't answered your emails regarding submitting it, I would be much more worried. Having read a lot of recommendation posts on CV, there are a lot of students who ask teachers for help and they don't get a response even after 3 or 4 weekly emails. That's is worse predicament than having a teacher turn around a recommendation in 1 day.

To answer your last question should I tell him to do it again? Seriously? That's a ridiculous request because the common app already has his recommendation. Even if this were possible and he could upload a second recommendation, whoever reads the file could compare and contrast what he wrote the first time versus the second time and draw their own conclusions on whether one or both were good indicators of your character or "leading the witness" to write a narrative to support your guidance. That doesn't sound like a path to be on.

The whole point of having recommendations is not to have an adult parrot what you wrote on your application in your voice but for admissions officers to see if other educators feel that you are a good fit for their school based on their observations. If you are a great person you have nothing to worry about.

3 years ago

Not much to add here since @CameronBameron gave a well thought out answer. I would try not to worry about this too much. I agree that recommendations that are written using brag sheets, guides, resumes, etc. can have an artificial feel to them. They don't get to who you are as a person, your character and personality, how you handle adversity, etc. All they do is say your accomplishments in another way with maybe a few kind words about you thrown in.

If you asked the right teacher they aren't going to need a cheat sheet to write a strong recommendation letter for you. They're going to know you from how you acted in class, how you handled yourself day-to-day, how you interacted with your peers and other teachers. There are aspects of you they will have picked up on that can't really be explained in a cheat sheet. Those are the recommendations you want from a teacher. They don't need a cheat sheet because they already know you, they want you to succeed, and they care enough that they're willing to write a LOR for you. It's possible it might not be the greatest LOR ever written but I guarantee it's a more genuine representation of you and the LOR you want written compared to the rec you may have gotten using the cheat sheet.

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