Here to Help
Each year parents ask me to write letters of recommendation for their students. Their children seek admission to private schools, summer camps, or their high school’s honors society. I am more than happy to help.
A number of students have told me “Coach K, you know me much better than my math teacher.” This is no surprise. Many students have been in my programs for years. They have participated in my summer camps. Some have even worked as Coaches-in-Training ("CiTs"). In contrast, their math teacher typically has spent 1 year with them (along with many other students).
My first piece of advice: give me and my team a chance to get to know your student.
Help Me Help You
It is important for you to understand the types of questions I am asked to answer, and the topics I can raise in the “other comments” section of the form. Here are some ways students in my programs can demonstrate the attributes schools find of interest:
Is this student a hard worker? Earning a lot of QUIA points is fantastic - it shows discipline, hard work, and tenacity. Earning a spot on the Top25 leaderboard is an accomplishment. This is data that I can share, and it is unambiguous.
Is the student intellectually curious and open to taking risks? Try some Sumo problems. Tackle some Black Belts. Work with your friends on Picture Perfect! This question does not ask if you were 'successful.' It asks if you were open to trying.
Is the student socially mature and open to ideas? Participate in your breakout room discussion. Ask your coach for help if you are stumped. Listen to your teammates when they share alternative solutions. When given the opportunity, go out on a limb and present a solution to the class. Working in small groups gives you an opportunity to develop your leadership skills and to become a team player.
Is the student helpful and kind? When you are working with others, be nice to them. Try to help them. When you’re in camp, be an enthusiastic camper and a good citizen. When you’re older, look for opportunities to work on your coaching skills and give back as a Coach-in-Training.
Things I Need from You
Lead time. Please give me at least 3 weeks before the deadline of your letter.
Information about your child. The below is optional, but helpful.
A transcript (unofficial).
Information about any other math classes or camps in which they have participated.
A draft of their personal statement / essays, along with anything else that will help me sing their praises.
If it’s not highlighted in their statement / essays, please give me a brief write-up as to why they are excited about the specific program to which they are applying.
Follow-up. Once they hear back on their application, please let me know how it went.