Chat With Nat: Is the senior brag sheet really all that helpful?

Natalie Aman, Columnist

What are you most proud of? What words describe you best? What occupations are you considering?

These questions, along with endless others like them, have been the focus of my mind since summer it seems like. And you can probably guess where they come from…. The infamous senior brag sheet.

For those of you who haven’t been introduced to the mad world of senior year or applying for college, the brag sheet is a form you have to fill out in order to request letters of recommendation from your counselor or some teachers. Found in the depths of Naviance, this form is 23 questions long, and can take hours to complete.

Not only is it too long due to it’s seemingly repetitive questions, it’s also unreasonably detailed. It asks questions ranging from my favorite high school classes, to explaining hardships I’ve faced in life, to achievements that I’m most proud of. It also asks the same question multiple times, just phrased in new ways. Basically I had to tell them what I have accomplished four or five different ways. Because it is so long and insanely thorough, our answers suffer because we simply lose steam trying to complete it in time. It’s as if we are filling out an entire other college application, only this one takes longer and the outcome is getting a letter that may or may not have any influence over whether you are accepted into a certain school or not.

However, the senior brag sheet isn’t the whole problem. The root of this issue is the fact that many colleges require a letter of recommendation from your school counselor in the first place. There are five counselors for sophomores, juniors, and seniors combined. In a class of 737 seniors, that’s well over 100 seniors per counselor. If only half of those seniors need a letter of recommendation from a counselor, that is still a lot to write for kids they have hardly gotten the chance to know.

Counselors are a great resource to have here at Bowie, but they should only be writing letters of recommendation for the students they have had the chance to get to know and help grow.  Only one of the schools I am applying to requires a letter of recommendation letter from my counselor, but that still means I had to spend hours writing responses to what felt like the same question.

The messy brag sheet system is only one of the reasons that I think letters of recommendation are redundant. There are other ways to showcase our qualities as young adults when applying for colleges or jobs. Recommendations should only be requested in cases where it would actually make a difference.

Colleges that require multiple recommendations, however, they are onto something. That way, if the first letter doesn’t exactly highlight the applicant, I am sure the second and third one will do much better.

All jokes aside though, the process of filling out the senior brag sheet and submitting letters of recommendation through Naviance or in the mail is unnecessary stress added in to the craze of applying for college for students and staff alike.