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Include counselor letter or not?


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#1 KarenNC

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 10:59 AM

I've put together the transcript, school profile, and a counselor letter for my daughter's applications, but am not sure if I should include the letter in all the applications. She's applying to seven schools, and has two other recommenders available-- her history professor and the religious education director at church, with the sensei at the dojo (who has known her for 10 years) as a third if needed. There is a possibility she could ask one of her other community college professors for a recommendation as well, probably the English professor who had her for the two intro writing courses last year.

 

Lenoir Rhyne does not require recommendations for admission and is unclear on the website about whether they are needed for scholarships.

 

Catawba recommends one from core teacher or counselor for admission, for homeschoolers says "teacher, tutor, or community member."

 

UNC-Wilmington is unclear, but their section for counselors seems to indicate that one is expected.

 

UNC-Greensboro says letters of recommendation are encouraged--"Anything that aids in determining a student's probability of success at UNCG is always worth including in the application."

 

UNC-Charlotte says essays and letters of recommendation are not required for admission. They do require nomination from a teacher/professor for their top scholarship and her history professor is doing that. Emails are then sent to recommenders, which won't include me. Their other big scholarship needs two academic recommendations.

 

Appalachian State doesn't require letters of recommendation for admission, but they do want a resume and personal statement from homeschoolers. Scholarship application requires two letters of recommendation, but we won't know if there are specific sources requested until they open the application for her (admissions material sent in already).

 

Roanoke recommends one letter of recommendation.

 

So, would you send the counselor letter of recommendation to any or all, or wait to see if the school requests it?



#2 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 11:07 AM

I took the opportunity in the counselor letter not to "recommend" my kid but rather to explain.  I explained our "school", educational philosophy, special challenges faced, and information about my kid that just didn't fit into any other category.  

 

What I didn't do is discuss their grades, performance in class, attitude, and many of the other things teachers usually comment on.

 

IF they took the time to read the letter I think they had a much better picture of who my kid is and how their education developed.  Not a run of the mill counselor letter but homeschoolers aren't run of the mill students.

 

Also, there is the possibility that you run the risk of having "missing information" in the applicants file if there is no counselor letter.  Missing information can lead to applications not being reviewed.  Not always, but sometimes.

 

Best of luck! (Completely anecdotal but a friend's daughter is at Catawba and loves it.)

 

 


Edited by JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst, 06 September 2017 - 11:10 AM.

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#3 JanetC

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 11:12 AM

Do not assume schools will request anything extra. They almost never request anything, so be sure to put your best stuff in without waiting to be asked.

But, there is a line between "sending your best stuff" and "sending too much stuff." Do not send optional material unless it is welcome: some schools do not want extra stuff to read. If the website is unclear, email admissions and ask. Make sure anything extra you send clearly enhances the application in a way nothing else you are already sending does. Do her grades, test scores, essays, and the rest of her application show she is ready for college, or do you really need this letter to explain some aspect of her challenges, accomplishments and/or potential?
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#4 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 11:25 AM

Not sure if these schools use the Common App or their own app. CA has the counselor rec section on the counselor log in. It doesn't show up with the standard teacher recommendations.

#5 KarenNC

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 11:35 AM

Not sure if these schools use the Common App or their own app. CA has the counselor rec section on the counselor log in. It doesn't show up with the standard teacher recommendations.

 

Appalachian and Roanoke do, but she had already done the Appalachian one before she decided to consider Roanoke, so there seems little point in doing the common app now.



#6 KarenNC

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 02:15 PM

I took the opportunity in the counselor letter not to "recommend" my kid but rather to explain.  I explained our "school", educational philosophy, special challenges faced, and information about my kid that just didn't fit into any other category.  

 

What I didn't do is discuss their grades, performance in class, attitude, and many of the other things teachers usually comment on.

 

IF they took the time to read the letter I think they had a much better picture of who my kid is and how their education developed.  Not a run of the mill counselor letter but homeschoolers aren't run of the mill students.

 

Also, there is the possibility that you run the risk of having "missing information" in the applicants file if there is no counselor letter.  Missing information can lead to applications not being reviewed.  Not always, but sometimes.

 

Best of luck! (Completely anecdotal but a friend's daughter is at Catawba and loves it.)

 

I talked about most of this in the school profile, as I included a short history of our homeschooling with educational goals, a bit about why we chose DE over AP, and limitations on extracurricular opportunities, along with educational partners, community info, graduation requirements, grading scale, etc.

 

In the counselor letter I talked about enthusiasm and work ethic for academics, preference for working behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight, lifelong volunteering in multiple ways, examples of maturity and support of peers, and interest in diversity and social justice. I used concrete examples to "show, don't tell" as much as possible and tried to give an idea of her in the community across her various activities and across time. 

 

Maybe if I just refer to it in the cover letter as a counselor letter rather than recommendation and take the recommending line out of the beginning it would be a better fit?


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#7 regentrude

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 02:45 PM

I would include it. It is not really a "Letter of Recommendation" but rather a letter "this is how this applicant ticks". Any college that is not interested does not have to read it, but it may be helpful to draw a complete picture.


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#8 KarenNC

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 02:51 PM

OK, I've changed the intro from "recommending" language to this and will include it with the package:

 

"As a homeschooler, I have functioned as both lead instructor and guidance counselor, overseeing Sarah’s education from kindergarten on, and so have had the pleasure of watching her grow into a confident, intelligent, and articulate young woman with a passion for learning and enriching her community through active involvement. I am writing to give you a bit more of an insight into how that plays out day-to-day."


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#9 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 03:23 PM

I talked about most of this in the school profile, as I included a short history of our homeschooling with educational goals, a bit about why we chose DE over AP, and limitations on extracurricular opportunities, along with educational partners, community info, graduation requirements, grading scale, etc.

 

In the counselor letter I talked about enthusiasm and work ethic for academics, preference for working behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight, lifelong volunteering in multiple ways, examples of maturity and support of peers, and interest in diversity and social justice. I used concrete examples to "show, don't tell" as much as possible and tried to give an idea of her in the community across her various activities and across time. 

 

Maybe if I just refer to it in the cover letter as a counselor letter rather than recommendation and take the recommending line out of the beginning it would be a better fit?

I think that all sounds wonderful.  I think leaving the word recommendation out is probably a good idea.  You could still say " I think John Doe would be a wonderful addition to the State U community because..."  or "has much to contribute to the State U community" etc. 

 

Best of luck!!



#10 KarenNC

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 03:57 PM

I think that all sounds wonderful.  I think leaving the word recommendation out is probably a good idea.  You could still say " I think John Doe would be a wonderful addition to the State U community because..."  or "has much to contribute to the State U community" etc. 

 

Best of luck!!

 

Thanks, we'll need it for good merit aid!

 

I've done that in the end paragraph: " In summary, Sarah would make an outstanding addition to the university community, both academically and socially. Her enthusiasm for academics and social justice is contagious, and she can bring a unique voice to the community." 


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#11 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:34 PM

Thanks, we'll need it for good merit aid!

 

I've done that in the end paragraph: " In summary, Sarah would make an outstanding addition to the university community, both academically and socially. Her enthusiasm for academics and social justice is contagious, and she can bring a unique voice to the community." 

 

Sounds like you have it all under control!!

 

Again, best of luck!



#12 KarenNC

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 09:09 PM

OK, packets are put together---cover letter, transcript, school profile, counselor letter, and, in the case of the two schools who request specific school report forms, said forms. All three of us are going through to make sure nothing is in the wrong envelope, then off to the post office tomorrow. Would have been much easier if the schools had just used the Common App!

 

Application fees are paid, test scores are ordered, and transcripts from the part-time public school program and dual enrollment programs ordered, so I think my part is now done until time for the FAFSA. My daughter has submitted all of her admissions applications and is now working on the scholarship and honors college applications. My husband (the English major, writer, and Mr. Grammar Person ;) ) is the one proofing her essays, so I don't have to worry about that part.


Edited by KarenNC, 07 September 2017 - 09:09 PM.

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#13 yvonne

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 10:48 PM

:hurray: :hurray:

 

:party:

 

 

Hooray!!!  Good for you!

 

Can't wait till I can say we've got everything in!  (I can't wait till I can say I've got ONE thing in! LOL)

 

 


Edited by yvonne, 07 September 2017 - 10:48 PM.

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#14 Grantmom

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 11:05 PM

Not sure if these schools use the Common App or their own app. CA has the counselor rec section on the counselor log in. It doesn't show up with the standard teacher recommendations.

 

 

So do we need to create a separate account as a counselor?  Ugh, I am so worried I am going to mess this up!!   :confused1:


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#15 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 02:50 AM

So do we need to create a separate account as a counselor?  Ugh, I am so worried I am going to mess this up!!   :confused1:

 

 

IF your student is applying using the Common Application, they create a student account and use it to do their side of the application.

 

There is a section in which they put the name and email contact of their counselor and recommenders.  If you are independent homeschoolers (ie, not using a charter school, umbrella school or other entity that is creating the transcript the student will be using), then they should put your email address and contact info here.

 

This will generate an email to your account that prompts you to create a counselor account.  From the counselor side you will be able to see the place to put school info (courses offered, grading scale, school size, etc - including a lot that will be n/a or 1 of 1 or other not that relevant for homeschooling).  There is also a section where you will see each of the students using you as their counselor (ie, probably just your kid).  This will allow you to enter student specific information, including uploading transcripts and doing a counselor recommendation.

 

There are some good Common App threads from the last couple of years.  Many topics (what is a school profile, what goes in different documents, should I weight grades, etc) have been discussed and you can get an idea of how different people approached things.  My point of view is that there isn't just one right answer (lots of brick and mortar schools have different grading scales and weighting policies), but that whatever you decide to do, you should explain clearly.

 

If your kid is applying to schools that don't use Common App, you may have different methods of submitting counselor info.  Some schools don't ask for transcripts unless the student was accepted (Univ of California system, for ex).  Others generate a school specific prompt for counselor info.  Others want transcripts mailed.  

 

If you aren't sure, it is within your writ as the guidance counselor to call an admissions office and ask what the best way to provide the documentation they need to evaluate your student.  I would call, identify myself as the parent of a homeschooler and say that I was calling with questions in my role as the guidance counselor.  I did this when one school kept losing test scores, when I wasn't sure how to submit transcripts, when their application didn't seem to work for the way our school had divided courses up, and when I wasn't sure what documentation they wanted from a homeschooler.  These are questions that a professional counselor might also call to ask about.  


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#16 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 02:53 AM

So do we need to create a separate account as a counselor?  Ugh, I am so worried I am going to mess this up!!   :confused1:

 

This is a Common App thread from last year.  It has links to some of the other long threads as well as some discussion of specific items.

 

Big Common App Thread for 2016-17 with links from 2015


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#17 Grantmom

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 06:12 PM

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of that! That is very helpful!

 

 


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#18 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 11:36 PM

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of that! That is very helpful!

 

I'm glad there were some helpful bits.  

 

Ask questions.  You learn.  Others learn.  As a group we get some of the spectrum of opinions and suggestions down, which means they are searchable later.  


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