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Parent Letters and College Admission
April 21, 2012
At Smith College, parent letters are optional. That’s right. Letters from parents can be included with the application.
Parent letters and college admission. When you think of a letter from a parent being included with a student’s college application, you might think it’s utterly ridiculous. Why would a college want a letter from a parent, asks writer Justin Pope in “The Huffington Post”? Of course the vast majority of parents (and every parent we know) want their children to earn admission to the colleges of their dreams, but isn’t including a letter from a parent like the “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode where Marie lobbies an interviewer to give her son, Robert, a job?
The answer is that, yes, it is utterly ridiculous, but it is an option at certain colleges. And at these schools, parents should indeed take the option to submit letters. So what colleges? How about Smith, Holy Cross, and Mt. Holyoke? That’s right. At these colleges, parent letters are considered optional. And in this case, that means parents should do it to improve the odds for their children.
But what should be written in these college admission recommendations from parents? These letters should shed insight on your child that isn’t necessarily present in teacher or guidance counselor letters of recommendation. These letters should describe your child in a way that only you can. What these letters should not focus on is how your child’s favorite TV show is “Glee” and how he always leaves his dirty clothes under his bed. But they also shouldn’t be about how he’s such a good boy that he never leaves his dirty laundry under the bed. These letters must share significant insight.
Sometimes sharing an anecdote can be the best way to convey the kind of person your child is. While we’ve said it before as students write college essays, we’ll say it again: Show. Don’t tell. You have an audience for these letters. An audience with a short attention span. So engage them right off the bat! These letters are ultimately not the most significant components of one’s application to a school like Smith but, in college admissions, every component counts.