Teacher Columnist: Why I Deny Recommendation Letter Requests

By Daniel Lieu

I’ve been writing for the past few weeks about letters of recommendations, with the caveat that I’ve been writing each of those letters. Let’s talk about a different situation (that has happened more times that I’d like). The times when I deny a student request to write a recommendation letter.

I’ll set the stage by emphasizing that I believe that every student deserves a letter of recommendation because they all have qualities that are worth writing about, but that I do have to deny a few students each year. Working at a smaller high school for the past three years, I’ve taught nearly all the students within that grade level. There were about 150 students in each grade level and having taught over 125 of them, by the time they reach senior year, that’s a lot of recommendation letters to write! That leads me into the reason why I deny a letter of recommendation: I can only write so much before I start sacrificing quality for the sake of quantity.

Picked for you:  Vetting Your College Consultant: Dos and Donts

I’ve learned that I can usually write 20 letters of recommendations a year before I burn out or get dangerously close to submission deadlines. These range from ones that require an online portal to ones that are typed out on letterhead and because of that, some are really quick to write and others are long.

Secondly, I’ve had to deny students

Daniel Lieu
Daniel is a high school science and Project Lead the Way teacher in Los Angeles, CA. He earned his BS in Biology from UCI, MS in Educational technology from California State University, Fullerton, and is currently working on his PhD in Education. Outside of teaching, he loves hiking, fishing, and exploring new food places with his fiancée.

Hi there.

No one spotlights the human stories of college admissions like we do.

But we're independent journalists who need support from readers like you.

Your subscription keeps us going -- completely ad-free.

Already a subscriber? Log in