New Jersey Education Association
Mary Yates Mack: Help for counselors,
While working as a school counselor for 30 years - 25 of them in the Morris County School District, Mary Yates Mack wrote thousands of letters of recommendations for students.
"I saw a lot of young counselors starting out who were swamped by these requests for recommendations," says Mack, now retired for six years.
She herself had been faced with writing 15, 20, or 30 recommendations a week. Sometimes as many as 75 that had to be written within two weeks, with sometimes up to 25 going to the same college or university.
So after she retired, while going though her files, Mack pulled varied samples of recommendation letters she had drafted. She published samples on the internet in 1997, then published 100 customizable letters in "The Winning Manual of Recommendations".
"My mission is to help the younger, newer counselor-educators to take care of some basic paperwork, so they have more time for counseling students," Mack notes. I wanted to build bridges for them. I consider the manual part of fulfilling that mission."
The printed manual recommends students first fill out a questionnaire detailing and explaining their career choice, interests / hobbies, important school or community accomplishments, important school/community activities, paid work and volunteer experience, personal characteristics, college /university choices, and other pertinent information or explanations of school records.
Counselors then should meet with their students one-on-one and get feedback from teachers for other personal data.
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