The college admissions landscape in the United States has never been more competitive; the most selective colleges and universities have very high expectations for their applicants. Therefore, crafting a strong college admissions profile can be challenging, especially without proper guidance. Ivy League Prep’s mission is to fulfill this need and provide students with personalized, specific guidance as they prepare to apply for college.
The three main components of a successful college admissions profile are a compelling theme, a unique narrative, and a competitive transcript. To supplement these elements, many students work hard to obtain recommendations that highlight their values and abilities. However, securing strong recommendations requires careful planning, and each recommendation should focus on a specific aspect of your potential as an applicant. For example, teacher recommendations should generally focus on your academic success, while school counselor recommendations should provide insight into your personality.
In this article, we focus on faculty and trustee recommendations—that is, recommendations from teachers, researchers, or board members of the school you are applying to. These types of recommendations may add value to your applicant profile and are relatively uncommon. Still, there are certain risks associated with using faculty and trustee recommendations. The following Ivy League admission tips will help you make the most of your recommendation letters.
The Dangers of Using Faculty and Trustee Recommendations
Few students are admitted to top colleges simply by virtue of a recommendation from a faculty or board member. And if your admissions profile isn’t strong, you are unlikely to be given a faculty or trustee recommendation—the reputation and credibility of that individual are on the line.
What is more, pursuing a faculty or trustee recommendation may adversely affect your admissions profile in several ways. First, admissions officers often bristle at the idea of a trustee or faculty member trying to influence the admissions process. It may be counterproductive to ask for a recommendation from a faculty member or trustee who is a family friend or a business partner. Second, trustee and faculty recommendation letters are often short and contain little substance—this may give the impression that you lack confidence in your academic performance, extracurricular achievements, and application theme.
Incorporating Recommendations Effectively
While recommendations based solely on relationship are unlikely to carry much weight and may hurt your chances of admission, that doesn’t mean that faculty or trustee recommendations are always inadvisable. A recommendation given by the right person for the right reasons will augment your admissions profile and make it stand out.
If, for example, you attended a summer course at college and impressed a professor because of your exceptional work, a recommendation from that professor would add value to your application. Or suppose that a member of the college’s board of trustees is a partner at the firm you interned at during the summer. If that trustee worked with you and can write a letter describing your qualities, skills, work ethic, and potential, the admissions officers are likely to be impressed
As with all other recommendations, the key is to not rely on this aspect of your admissions profile. You are unlikely to benefit from recommendation letters unless you are already a strong candidate.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to navigate the college admissions process. Fortunately, Ivy League Prep is here to help. Contact us to find out how we’ve helped many students gain admission to the most prestigious schools in the United States.