HigherEdMorning.comWhy some schools accept parent recommendations

Why some schools accept parent recommendations

March 12, 2012 by Jacob Hawley
Posted in: Admissions & Financial Aid, Enrollment, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views

Could “But my mom says I’m cool!” end up on more college applications? 

Students are always encouraged to get letters of recommendation to build a better application. So who better to speak out on their behalf than their biggest boosters (and often, toughest critics) – their parents?

That’s the logic of schools like Smith College in Massachusetts, and the University of Richmond in Virginia. They invite parents to submit letters along with the application, or in a follow-up invitation after the application is received.

Smith imposes a single-page limit to keep the parental praise at a reasonable length.

This invitation isn’t so much a pendulum-swing back from discouraging overbearing, helicopter parenting, as much as a chance for schools to get a fuller picture of a prospective student.

In particular, it gives lower-income students their best chance for advocacy. Often, it’s lower-income families who make the most effort to engage in the admissions process. (At Smith College, 22% of students receive Pell Grants.)

The practice is mostly of use to smaller liberal arts schools. Most colleges don’t have the staff to do more than evaluate candidates primarily on their academics.

Are parental recommendations a good way to get to know students, or a needless burden on admissions departments? Share your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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