2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How much do letters of recommendation from teachers really matter and how do different ones make a difference?

How much do colleges care for letters of recommendation? Do the subjects the teachers teach factor into it? I’ve already asked my pre-med track teacher and my environmental science teacher, and my guidance counselor is already creating her own letter. I want to ask my math teacher but I’m not sure if maybe I should ask my history teacher or chemistry teacher instead, since they all make good letters (according to my guidance counselor). I’m a high school junior by the way.

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2 years ago

The best recommendations come from the people that see you for all the great things that you are. These are people who can articulate what differentiates you from the rest of the class, people who know your story, your personality, your character, your best traits. These are people that can advocate for you and want to because you are great person.

It doesn't matter if your recommendation comes from the school custodian, the school nurse, or your lacrosse coach. What matters most is that they can effectively use their voice to communicate what makes you a amazing human being.

Aligning your major with your current curriculum and curate the best fit for the recommendation doesn't mean much if those STEM teachers won't go to bat for you over your peers who are applying to the same schools. If your science teachers are asked by same 15-25 high achieving peers who you know are going to have overlaps with the schools you are applying to, it's kind of futile to ask them for a recommendation if you are not their very favorite person in the class.

You don't need 3 good letters of recommendation or 2 excellent ones, you need 1 amazing one okay?

I was reading Becky Sabky's books Valdictorians at the Gate and she said at her 12 years at Dartmouth's admission's office the best recommendation she ever read came from a janitor. This janitor didn't teach the student anything. This janitor just observed what kind of student the applicant was and was always impressed with how they treated other people and put the needs of others before their own.

So you don't have to listen to me or believe me but a killer recommendation or two will always push your file toward the top of the pile for committee to review if you have all your other ducks in a row and meet all the other thresholds of criteria.

Good luck.

🎤2 years ago

Wow, thank you so much! Your valuable advice means a lot to me and I’ll definitely remember it. Thanks again.


2 years ago

get letters from the people who like you the most. the best letters speak very well of you abilitys. and you only need 2-3 letters, so if you get good grades in the classes you chose, then you should be ok.


🎤2 years ago

Thanks again to everyone for the great responses!


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


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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