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Decoding Personal Recommendations

Most likely, in addition to your teacher recommendations, the boarding school you're applying to will request personal recommendations. So if you’re asking yourself what are they and who should complete them, we’ve got the answers.

Why do I need personal recommendations?

A great characteristic of boarding school is that your experience there goes beyond just the classroom. From arts and athletes to living on dorm and being involved in the community, who you are as a person is just as important as who you are as a student. Your teacher recommendations showcase your academic personality and learning style, while your personal recommendations go outside the classroom and share more information about you as an individual, a friend, and a citizen.

Should personal recommendations come from teachers, too?

Personal recommendations can come from any adult who knows you well. You can ask another teacher, a coach, an advisor, or even a friend’s parent. The goal here is to have someone who knows you well speak on your behalf. They can even be used to showcase community involvement or a particular talent. Perhaps you’re looking to play in a private school athletics program, have a strong passion for art, or regular involvement in community service activities. These personal recommendations can tell us more about these endeavors. They also be used to share information about areas in which you need personal growth; this isn’t a bad thing. We all have areas of our lives to improve, whether it’s your ability to get places on time or keep your room clean that you need to work on, boarding school is the perfect environment in which to grow.

Should I submit more personal recommendations than requested?

In short, no. Many applicants think that stacking their application with dozens of really strong personal recommendations is the way to go. However, your admission officers don’t want to wade through piles and piles of recommendations. Choose the one or two individuals who best know you, and just use them. If the school says to submit a max of two personal recommendations, adhere to that guideline.

Can I read my personal recommendations?

Like teacher recommendations, these are also typically confidential. The goal is for the recommender to give a full and honest review of you as a person, including your strengths and areas of improvements. Their honesty will help the admission team decide if you are a good fit for their community, and in turn, if their community is a good fit for you. This isn’t just where you’re going to attend classes; boarding school is going to be your second home for the next four years. You want to make sure it’s the right fit, and personal recommendations can help.


Stacy Jagodowski

Written by Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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