Letters of recommendation do not accurately evaluate students: Opinion

Postsecondary institutions should do away with letters of recommendation, writes Benjamin Schreier, as the genre is no longer a useful part of student applications. Schreier argues that letters of recommendation tend to contain exaggerated, dishonest claims, such as that a student was “one of the top three students I’ve ever taught.” The author writes that these letters can be difficult to parse due to the writers’ use of hyperbole, and do not provide a clear assessment of candidates’ scholarly aptitude. Schreier says reference letters can also reproduce and aggravate structural biases. Instead of requiring reference letters, the author encourages committees to judge candidates by other means such as personal statements, transcripts, writing samples, and portfolios. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Acct. Req.) Note: Archived stories may contain dead links or be missing source links.

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