Q: What is the role of the recommendation letter in the application process?
When I was an admissions officer at Tufts, I actually called an English teacher in Iowa to thank her for writing such helpful recommendations. She’d written letters for four students, and captured each kid in a way that evocatively highlighted his or her unique engagement in the classroom, such that I could vividly picture how each would contribute to the intellectual community on our campus. All four were admitted. So—why did those letters matter?
Learning About the Student Behind the Grades
An effective teacher recommendation can merge academic data (such as grades and test scores) and personal qualities (which are highlighted in essays and extracurricular activities) to help the admissions officer understand the student behind the many pieces of the application.