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Articles / Applying to College / Political Views & Admission Chances
Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Aug. 18, 2007

Political Views & Admission Chances

Question: I am applying to Boston University. One of my English professors wrote me a recommendation in which he briefly talked about some of my writing in his class. He includes a description of a paper I wrote in which my argument was that abortion should only be legal under certain circumstances. I've been told that Boston University is liberal in outlook and that it would be a bad idea for me to submit this recommendation, even though it is a very good recommendation otherwise. What should I do?


Don't worry about your teacher's reference "outing" your views on abortion and hurting your Boston University admission odds. Even the most liberal institutions value--and encourage--a range of perspectives, and I promise you that if you aren't admitted to BU, it will NOT be because your abortion stance is more conservative than the prevalent opinion on campus.

What does concern me, however, is that you seem to be talking about submitting the recommendation yourself. Instead, you should request that your teacher's letter of reference go directly to the college from him--or from your school--assuming that it is one of your REQUIRED teacher recommendations. (If it's an extra, optional reference, it can come right from you.) Colleges prefer to see references that were written confidentially and to which students do not have access.

Admittedly, there seems to be a growing trend among teachers to show their letters to the applicants involved and sometimes to even ask for feedback (e.g., "Is this what you want me to say? How should I change it?"). However, admission committees take good references more seriously if they don't appear to have passed through the candidates' hands first before arriving in their offices.

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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