Teachers Overwhelmed by Letters of Rec

By Dom Quaranta

Teachers and counselors face pressure from students requesting letters of recommendation.

“More and more seniors are applying using Early Action and Early Decision, therefore our letters of recommendation need to be finished earlier,” Tam counselor Sarah Gordon said.

The advantage to submitting applications via Early Action or Early Decision as opposed to waiting is the higher likelihood of acceptance into the college of a student’s choice.

“From when school starts in August and well into December, almost all of counselors’ efforts are focused on completing letters of recommendation,” Gordon said. “This year I will be writing 62 letters of rec. The letters are all completely individual, no templates, and the process can be laborious. Typically it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to write one letter, and that is done with my best focus when I write at home.”

According to Gordon, the process starts with students filling out a “Letter of Rec Packet” that they receive via email. This gives the counselors enough information to write each letter.

In addition to the requirement of a counselor’s letter, seniors request letters of recommendation from teachers of their choice.

English teacher Mike Lavezzo, who is writing about 20 letters of rec this year, was not affected by early applications. “I haven’t had to put any restrictions on it,” Lavezzo said. According to Lavezzo, in past years, he has sometimes set a date by which students had to ask him for letters.

Teachers have the right to reject a student’s request for any reason they deem necessary, and often this reason is the time commitment, which can get in the way of other daily work.

“I often feel that other students get neglected with the time we spend with seniors,” Gordon said. “So I work before school and at lunchtime to make time for all of my students.”

Lavezzo suggested teaches be compensated if they have over 20 to write because if each letter takes an average of one hour to write, 20 letters means two ten hour work days. “I feel like teachers have a responsiblity to write them and do a good job on them. They are important and colleges take them seriously but we do have a situation right now where some people have to write too many and they should be getting compensated for it,” Lavezzo said.