Background: This summer I was the instructor for a course in which many of my students were in high school, and were enrolled in my course as part of a 'pre-college' program at my university. This was a regular course, in no way modified for the pre-college students, and there were undergraduates enrolled simultaneously in the course.

I agreed to write a letter of recommendation for a few of the pre-college students for their university applications. The students' high schools seem to have differing levels of involvement in their college applications. One of them said their school is managing their application, and that I should send my letter of recommendation to the school who will then put it in their applications. I'd prefer to keep my part of their application separate, since I'm not affiliated with their school and don't want to run the risk of my letter being edited.

Question: Should I refuse to submit a letter to their high school?

  • 1
    Refusing to submit a letter harms your students. If the school is dishonest, they could fake the letters from the top to the bottom anyway.
    – vonbrand
    Sep 21 '15 at 0:46
  • 1
    @vonbrand: I won't refuse to submit a letter at all, but I don't like the idea of it floating around an unfamiliar institution. Sep 21 '15 at 1:15
  • If you're uncomfortable, you could simply tell the student "I'd prefer to submit my letter directly to the colleges. Please give me a list of the addresses." Sep 30 '15 at 15:34

I'd send the letter in paper in an envelope signed (over the flap) by you. Perhaps offer sending several copies for every student, if they apply to several schools.

That is standard procedure for such letters (or was, pre e-everyting days).

  • I believe the applications are electronic - most of them use Common App and I'd definitely like not to have to post anything! Sep 21 '15 at 0:35

If you want to send an electronic letter that has no chance of being tampered with, there are a number of ways to sign and certify electronic documents (see, for example, the methods Adobe provides).

If you want to prevent the student from seeing the recommendation, you've really got no good alternative besides either trusting the high school staff or whatever "seek outside recommendation" methods that the electronic submission systems offer.

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