Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

Where’s Fred? / College Letters of Recommendation

Karl Schellscheidt -

college admissions expert advice from Some of you may have noticed a recent lack of posts from Fred Hargadon. You may be wondering, “Where’s Fred?”

Well, I had the same question a couple of weeks ago, so I reached out to Fred to see what was happening. He explained that he was working around the clock writing scores of letters of recommendation for young men and women he had gotten to know well over the years. They were applying to colleges, law schools, business schools, medical schools, etc. You name it; Fred was writing one. And knowing Fred as I do, I can assure you that he is taking the time to do a great job on each letter.

My communication with Fred made me hearken back to the days when I was a high school teacher. I remember getting crushed by numerous letter-of-recommendation requests every year. I also remember thinking that it somehow wasn’t fair that the (let’s call them) “inspired” teachers got slammed every year, while the (let’s call them) “not-so-inspired” teachers got continue spending their free time relaxing, working a second job, and/or pursuing leisure activities (not to mention devising ways to get through each year with less effort than they exerted year before).

Don’t get me wrong, I was honored by most requests. The fact remains, however, that writing good letters of recommendation takes time — after school time, after-hours time, a teacher’s free time.

My advice is this: Identify the teachers you want to get a letter from early in the process. Let them know early Junior year that you plan to ask them for a letter of recommendation. Finally, make your official request well in advance of any due dates. This way they can plan to get yours done before the “crush” depletes their precious reserves of time, energy and enthusiasm.

Just my thoughts.

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