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What if my teachers can’t write letters of recommendation?

We require letters of recommendation for our application. We strongly recommend having one letter from a math/science teacher, and one from a humanities, social science, or language teacher. Additionally, a letter is often submitted by a counselor or school official alongside the required Secondary School Report. We have always said that it is most important to get these letters from the people who know you best and can advocate most compellingly on your behalf, whether or not they have taught you the most recently or in the most advanced coursework.

We understand that, under these conditions, your preferred recommenders may be struggling with their own challenges, and may be unable to write you a letter. We encourage you to try to get letters of recommendation from people who can write well on your behalf, or to at least have them fill out the cover sheet component with an abbreviated letter if necessary. But don’t stress about this; as always, students will not be penalized in the application process for disruptions outside of their control, and there will be ample space in the application to explain any issues you may have had in getting your letters.

One thing that teachers can do to help us (and you) is make explicit in their letters any constraints on them that might prevent them from writing a typically strong or knowledgeable letter on your behalf. A few sentences at the top of a letter describing any limited capacity or lack of knowledge due to the pandemic should be sufficient. Feel free to link this FAQ to your teachers when you ask for their letters (which we recommend that you do politely, and early), as well as our other suggestions for writing strong letters.

This FAQ was last updated on 8/19/2021. We will update this and/or other FAQs as events warrant. 

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