This is less a matter of “currently” than of type of college. Some colleges, particularly state flagship public universities like the University of Minnesota, don’t care at all about recommendation letters or essays. There’s no place in the application to include those things.
Other schools practice “holistic” admissions, which means they take all of these things into consideration. Lets look at what admissions officers gain from each of these application pieces:
Other schools have an emphasis on each student, so they value the more insightful parts of the application—the letters and essay—more highly than simply grades and test scores. This is especially true of the many test optional colleges, and colleges where the application allows more creativity through ZeeMee, video applications, portfolios, etc.
In short, you should make sure that the real you shines through on all parts of your applications, but evaluate carefully to make sure the colleges that you apply to really fit your strengths.
Lessa Scherrer is an college admissions consultant who has worked with college-bound students for many years. She is a member of NACAC and WACAC and also teaches ACT Prep, speed-reading, college study skills and college-level writing.
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