A thread on College Confidential jumped out at me the other day. Despite our instructions that request one counselor recommendation and one teacher recommendation, people are planning on sending us five teacher recommendations. So they are thinking of giving us a total of SIX recommendations?!?
No one at UVa wants this. No one. Colleges ask for the items they would like to receive. We like having the counselor and teacher perspectives in the application,. We always say that we'll read a supplemental recommendation if you feel like there's something else we need to know, but repetition is not needed. In fact, when reading 28,000 applications, repetition can be a bit tedious at times.
Your counselor's recommendation will be the one that sets the stage. They usually talk about the "big picture." The go beyond the information in the school profile to tell us about your class and what big choices you may have made about your academics. Your teacher's recommendation will be about the day-to-day. They are often more personal and more anecdotal. They tell us about those great contributions you've made in class or the projects you've done that have gone beyond their expectations.
That's what we want. Keep it simple.
By the way, if people stop asking three, four, and five teachers to recommendations, maybe teachers will have a little more time to write great, thoughtful letters that give us better insight into who our applicants are in the classroom.
CavDog's reaction to recommendation overload