How critical is the counselor recommendation letter?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,769
    Jerome Cole, Director of College Counseling at the Edmund Burke School in Washington D.C., discusses how critical the Counselor Recommendation Letter is in the selection process for college admission.

    Jerome A. Cole, MA

    Jerome A. Cole, M.A., is the Director of College Counseling for the Edmund Burke school in Washington, D.C. and the founder of Cole Educational Consulting Services (Cole ECS.) He has worked with students and families for over seven years to help them plan and strategize for college. As a college counselor at Burke, an independent college preparatory high school founded in 1968, Mr. Cole oversees a program that is designed to support students and families as they go through the selection and admission process for college. Mr. Cole advises over 100 students each year in a small academically challenging environment where every senior is expected to apply to and enroll in college. Prior to Burke, he was a school counselor at Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has successfully counseled hundreds of students and helped them prepare for admission to a variety of schools such as: American University, Clark-Atlanta University, Davidson College, George Washington University, Harvard University, Pitzer College, Stanford University, Temple University, and the University of Maryland at College Park, to highlight just a few. He established the consulting firm Cole ECS to provide students and families with the necessary information and support to make the best choice for college. Cole ECS defines the best choice as the optimal learning and social environment to ensure a student’s holistic success, culminating in on-time or early graduation and desirable post-graduate options. Mr. Cole earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Catholic University, and then went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. He is certified as a school counselor and is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

    How critical is the Counselor Recommendation Letter in the selection process for colleges?

    Well, you are asking the wrong person that question. As a counselor, I think it's the most important recommendation letter in your whole file. I say that half-jokingly because the Counselor Letter of Recommendation is a statement from this high school and the community.

    It is a statement, it is a letter that should include parent feedback, teacher feedback, coaches, club sponsors, your peers in some cases, the community, it should all be accomplished in that one counselor letter, in addition to obviously, the individual counselor his thoughts and feelings about you as a student. So, I think that because you are bringing all those different aspects to this one letter, I think it's the most important letter. Again, I am biased, I say that upfront, but it's a critical letter and seriously, it is a letter that colleges look at and they do expect you to touch on all aspects of the student. They want you to talk about the academics, the extracurricular activities, they want you to speak to character, they want you to speak to potential at the collegiate level, but they also want you to speak to, is this a match? You know our school, you know our university, is this kid a good match for us?