The Madeleine Brand Show for March 13, 2012

Parenting on the Edge: Should parents write recommendation letters?

A group of recommendation letters

Luke Robison/flickr cc

A group of recommendation letters ready to be mailed.

Smith College's Dean of Admissions, Deb Shaver, talks to Madeleine Brand about the practice of allowing parents to write recommendations for their kids. Half of the applications for Smith College's newest incoming class came with recommendations written by their parents.

"You would think [they] would be [inherently biased], but parents nail their kids. They give us the good qualities of their daughters and some of the areas of improvement," Shaver said. They "often feel disregarded in this admission process, [they] spent 17 years of our lives raising these kids and [colleges] don't want to know anything?"

Shaver does mention that the admissions process primarily hinges on academics, however. "[A parental recommendation] won't make or break an admission decision."


Deb Shaver is Smith College's Dean of Admissions.

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