Part 3: College Application FAQ, Recommendation Letters
This article was originally published on Socratic Summer Academy’s blog.
- Do you need separate recommendation letters for each college? No — you can use the same one for all colleges.
- How to get your recommendations on time? Make life as easy as possible for your recommender — give them all the info (brag sheet!) up front!
- Many colleges would actually prefer bulleted recommendation letters!
- Read more college admissions tips on our blog!
Parent FAQs: Letters of Recommendation Edition!
Parents have so many questions about college. And that makes total sense, because they care so much about their children! You might feel like your questions are dumb, but don’t worry — that’s not the case. You have every right to have your questions answered, and Alyssa the SAT Expert is here to help you with just that!
Question: Can the same letter of recommendation be sent to all the schools my child is applying to?
Answer: Yes, absolutely!
And more about letters of recommendation — A lot of folks who have to write them (teachers, guidance counselors) have to write SO MANY of them.
Keeping that in mind, you’ll want to do these things:
How do I make sure my recommender gets me the letter on time? Make life as EASY as possible for the recommender!
- Give your recommender a lot of time and notice.
- Give them a “brag sheet.”
- If you give them a list of what you’ve accomplished, then not only can they brag about the specific things YOU want them to talk about, it helps refresh their memory. As someone who’s had a lot of recommendation letter requests from her students, Alyssa wants to write something really good and thoughtful. She knows that if she just writes a generic “I recommend Joe Johnson for your program,” that means nothing. She wants to write something that is fundamentally true about the child’s character, and about a time that the child had an experience and grew from it. That’s the essence of a great recommendation letter. And a brag sheet makes this so much easier.
You can also let your recommender know that a few years ago, NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) introduced bulleted recommendations. After sending it to 25 highly selective schools, 19 of the 20 that responded said that these recommendations were either better than or the same as typical prose recommendations. And just imagine — instead of writing sentences, your recommender can just write a list of what you did. That’s obviously much faster.
This bulleted list is now accepted at almost all top colleges — and if those schools are willing to accept it, it’s likely that every college is down to take it. So remind your recommender that this is an option — it’s going to save them a lot of time and trouble, and it’ll probably make them like you a lot more (which is going to get you that recommendation letter!!).