3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Do I need a humanities and STEM recommendation?


I am in the process of adding my recommenders to my commonapp, but I ran into a snag. At the beginning of summer, I asked my junior year english teacher if he could write my rec letter because I did well in the class, participated, and kept my camera on for most classes (which he appreciated). This was his last year at my HS so I asked before he transferred and he agreed to write it. I sent him my brag sheet and he never replied so I sent another email at the start of the school year and he still hasn't replied. A couple of my friends also asked him and he is not responding to anyone.

I accepted the fact that he ghosted us, so I asked a couple other teachers (my AP chem teacher, and my sports medicine teacher -who I have had for 3 years). They both agreed but I am worried that the lack of humanities in my recommenders list is going to show that I'm not well rounded. Is this justified or am I okay where I am?


🎉 First post
Let’s welcome @glassofmilk to the community! Remember to be kind, helpful, and supportive in your responses.
@Swap3 years ago

Well don't worry the most important fact that needs to be taken into consideration is your major say you applying for a Pol. Sci major then it is crucial that you get a LOR from a humanities teacher of yours but say you are applying for a STEM major like aeronautical engineering then you need to get a LOR from a STEM teacher of yours. So overall it depends mostly on the major you are applying for.

Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago

It's good that you were proactive to the non-response of your former English teacher. I think that when teachers retire or transfer to other schools, they close the chapter on their former school. So don't take this as a personal "ghosting" or something that has to do with you. The timing was wrong and he had one foot out the door so he just underestimated how he was going to feel after he left.

Unless a college states in their recommendations criteria like MIT that definitively wants 1 STEM teacher and 1 humanities teacher, they will all accept recommendations from any kind of teacher, coach, school admin person that best knows you and can advocate for you. I've even heard of janitors writing recommendations for Ivy league applicants and being very effective in helping them get in.

The point of the recommendation is to give the admissions officer another perspective of who you are, what makes you tick, what your character is, and whether what you wrote out in your Common or Coalition app jives with the recommenders' words. It's more important to pick a person that will bring out your qualities and perhaps offer some more data points that are unique and different than what you have written.

Sometimes a teacher who sees you struggle and overcome a difficult situation in class like getting Bs and lacking focus, and then stepping up and participating more and getting As is the right teacher to pick for a recommendation versus someone that is your friend who is going to write glowing things that are already apparent.

Hope this perspective gives you some comfort and direction on what to do.

Good luck.

3 years ago

Hi, thank you for asking your question. @CameronBameron has done a wonderful job in answering your question. My one additional comment would be to focus your letter of recommendations (LORs) from teachers who are in the major you are applying for. For example, if you are applying into Drama and Theater, it would be wise to have your acting coach write a letter for you instead of your AP chemistry teacher. Likewise, if you are applying to a BS/MD program, you may want a volunteer coordinator or AP chemistry teacher's LOR as opposed to a drama class teacher.

I recognize that some schools have strict requirements for where the LORs can come from. But for the most part, I don't anticipate you running into the obstacle of absolutely needing a humanities teacher LOR. And if you do, I would recommend asking a more recent teacher you have had -- in this case, sophomore year may be better than a freshman year teacher.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works