Letters of Recommendation
Some colleges, but not all, require letters of recommendation as part of the application. Some schools require just one, some require up to three. Some will accept a maximum of ten letters, some will only accept two. Some colleges won’t accept any. This variance makes it so important for students to research each college individually to find out their specific requirements.
Colleges and universities might also ask for different letters. Some colleges might only require teachers, while others may only require counselors. A few colleges will require both. Students should also ensure that they know which type of letter is required before requesting any.
Very few (if any) colleges will require an ‘outside’ reference - that is, a letter from someone outside of VPHS. However, students often like to request these types of letters so that colleges can see a broader picture of them. Getting an ‘outside’ letter is encouraged if the student feels strongly that it will add to their application.
Colleges ask for different letters because each letter serves a different purpose. In general, recommendation letters from teachers describe the student within the classroom setting (i.e. do they actively participate? Are they a leader to their peers? Do they come to class on-time and prepared?). Counselor letters, however, discuss more personal aspects of the student: what their career aspirations are, any big events that have strongly impacted the student, etc. Both types of letters help to paint a full picture of the applicant.
For information on requesting a letter of recommendation through SCOIR, please see the 'SCOIR' tab.
Every student has several basic rights as outlined in FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) - one of these is access to their educational records. However, college applications ask the student to choose to waive this right in regards to their letters of recommendation. It is very important for students to do so, because the colleges are able to see if the right has not been waived, and if students choose not to do so, it appears as though the letters might be biased.