2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Tell recommender which activities?

The teacher from whom I requested a letter of recommendation wants a list of my activities. I did not give her one because I did not want her to rehash what is on my college application. Instead, I wrote a letter detailing my experiences from her class, the traits I showed, and how I applied the class to my other endeavors (Google "Common App student brag sheet"). What should I consider when choosing the activities I give her and how should I frame/describe them?

TL;DR: How to pick and explain activities to recommender

Thank you for your time and take care.


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1 answer

2 years ago

There are 2 ways to go about doing this.

1.) Follow the Google App Brag sheet as you did.

2.) Oblige your teacher with the request.

If you are specifically trying the control the narrative and scope of what the teacher can advocate for you then do the first one. For instance, if you are applying as a CS major and your asked for a recommendation from your AP CS teacher, then you might think it best to have your teacher talk you up on getting an A in CS and being very intellectually curious about Python programming.

On the other, since you do not exactly know who your application reader is or what they are trying to gauge from the recommenders, sometimes it's better to go with the flow so to speak. Some application readers want to know if the English teacher or History teacher sees something special in the student beyond what they know about them in the classroom. Some application readers want to know it the teachers see a multi-faceted individual who excels at many things besides the material taught in that 1 class. If the student truly has a rapport or friendship with the teacher that transcends beyond the subject matter in the class, then the teacher will have the insight to what makes that student special and tick.

If your English teacher has full transparent knowledge of who you are and what you do with your free time, they can better advocate for your character not just your grade or performance. For some elite colleges, where everyone applying has an A average and 99% Stats, one's character is a differentiating attribute that will determine who makes the cut and who doesn't.

Again, I'm not a college counselor or college admissions reader. The choice for how much information you wish to give to your recommender is up to what you are trying to achieve and control on your application. (last thought was if your teacher asked you for something specific like a list of activities, it's because they want to learn more about you and can't off the top of their head remember specifics about you beyond the classroom. By denying them what they request because you think it potentially muddies the waters by duplicating what your applications' narrative about you it, you are placing a question in their minds as to what your motivation is for not giving them as much information possible about you so they can advocate for you. There are more implications to your question than do I do this or do I do that.)

Good luck with your college admissions journey.


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