Admissions

Which Recommendation to Send?

Question: I have just submitted my application to Princeton via Common App (along with supplements). My college office has already submitted one of my three teacher recommendations, which I had originally planned to use as a supplementary recommendation.

I am an engineering (computer science) major, and I have two options to choose from: a music teacher I’ve had for four years that knows me really well, and a computer science teacher that I’ve also had for 2-3 years, but I feel like might not know me AS well.

However, I’m still unsure, because computer science is my major, and I’m trying to decide which one to send to Princeton. On my application, I already talk about computer science a lot, so I’m considering sending the music rec in order to show more of my personality. However, that would mean I have two humanities recs, and I feel like that might be quite disadvantageous.  What should I do?


You didn’t tell “the Dean” who the initial rec was from … you only said humanities, and it would help to know.

But, even so, it may not sway my answer. I think you should go with Computer Science. If that’s your likely major, you don’t want both your recs to be from humanities fields. Presumably, if you have experience in music, it is already listed elsewhere on your application. And, typically, colleges prefer references from more “academic” subjects rather than from arts teachers (except, of course, for art-specific schools or majors).

In addition, a reference from a music teacher for an Asian kid (I’m assuming this from your name but perhaps I shouldn’t) isn’t exactly head-turning. As much as “The Dean” would like college admissions to be race/ethnicity-blind (a long conversation for another day), it rarely is. And Asians–especially those who favor “stereotypical Asian pursuits” (another conversation)–tend to get the short end of the stick (although this is something that admission folks will rarely … well …. admit!).

So “The Dean’s” vote is for the Comp Sci teacher … at least based on what you’ve told me here.

Good luck!