documents are not hearsay or anecdotal. They are professional opinions and records which the school needs to review. They complete an important part of your child's application. But remember: teacher or principal and other confidential recommendations are just one part of the applications process. On the other hand, be aware that the principal or counsellor will tell it like it is. Professionally but at the same time clinically.
Where Are the Forms?
On the school's web site under Admissions. Typically you can download the Principal/Head/Counselor Recommendation Forms which are available in PDF format like most of the other admissions materials. You complete the information at the top of the form, then hand the blank form to your child's principal or head of school or, in some cases, the school's guidance counsellor. Be sure to include an envelope addressed directly to the school's admissions office. Stamp the envelope before you give it to the counsellor or principal's office. Remind the counsellor to submit the recommendation forms as soon as possible, in any event no later than December 31 for mid-January deadlines.
You waive your right to review or even see what the counsellor writes in her evaluation. This information is strictly confidential. You may not see it. Neither can you pressure the person who completes the form to reveal what he or she has said about your child. Having said that, be aware that there are no secrets when it comes to these kinds of recommendations. If your child has been, to put it politely, a handful, then be prepared for some questions about that during your interview. Schools can be tolerant, all else being equal, even hopeful, as long as they know that you are aware of the situation and will support them. If your child has difficulty with math or English, be candid about those weaknesses in your interview. Your frankness will corroborate what the admissions staffer is seeing in the file.
Examples of School Recommendation Forms
Many schools are moving to online applications. The various recommendation forms are often included in that online process as well. Check with the school to find out how they prefer you to handle recommendations. Here are some examples of how three schools handle the principal/head/counsellor recommendation forms.
St. Mary's School, Raleigh, North Carolina
St. Mary's includes a transcript release with its Guidance Counsellor recommendation forms which you download and complete.
Sidwell Friends School, Washington, District of Columbia
Sidwell includes all the forms parents need on one very convenient and well-laid out page. Forms for admissions to every grade in the school are available for downloading.
Shattuck-St. Mary's School, Faribault, Minnesota
SSM makes it easy for parents unfamiliar with the admissions process to find and download the forms which they need.
The Principal/Head of School/Counselor Recommendation Form is straight forward and easy to understand.