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Articles / Applying to College / Can Senior Use References from Soph Teachers at Former School?

Nov. 29, 2010

Can Senior Use References from Soph Teachers at Former School?

Question: I attended one school up until 10th grade and then did my 11th and 12th elsewhere. Is it okay if my recommendation letters and counselor rec are from teachers from my previous school or do they have to be from the most recent school attended?

Colleges prefer recommendations from teachers who taught you in 11th or 12th grade. Whether a student is in a new school or not, sophomore teachers are not the best choices for the two primary faculty references, unless they’ve also taught the applicant as a junior or senior (which, of course, in your case won’t be possible).


So I suggest that you ask teachers from your current school to write your required references but then send a reference from a sophomore teacher at your old school as a supplementary one. Your counselor letter should definitely be from your current counselor.

Although admission officials don’t like to be flooded with unsolicited recommendations, one or sometimes even two judicious extra submissions are fine, particularly when there are extenuating circumstances---and starting a new school as a junior can count as “extenuating.”

(posted 11/30/2010)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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