I used to take such pride when I wrote a letter of recommendation for a student. As the school counselor at a high school, I carefully crafted letters that I knew admissions officers wanted to read.
After spending the first half of my career as an admissions officer and dean of admissions, I was keenly aware of what those letters of recommendation could do for a student. But over the last few years, many colleges have reduced the number of letters of recommendation required or no longer permit them.
While this can save school counselors and teachers a lot of work, this trend reveals the underlying challenge of college admissions: overwhelming numbers of applications and a more streamlined approach to reading and evaluating these applications. Colleges are adapting and the first thing to be reduced or eliminated to speed up the process are letters of recommendation.
Here are three trends to be on the lookout for:
Many students will ask me if they should submit letters of recommendation when they are not required or send in additional ones. My answer is uniformly, "no." These colleges barely have time to read the required pieces of an application. The admissions officers do not want anything extra in the application as it will slow them down in the reading and evaluation process.