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In your Mathcamp application, you will need to include two recommendation letters: one academic letter and one personal letter.
The academic letter should be from a teacher who knows you personally, preferably (but not necessarily) a mathematics teacher. The letter should comment on your creativity, initiative, and ability to work with others, as well as on your academic achievements. You might submit an academic recommendation letter from:
If you have attended another mathematics summer program recently (e.g. Hampshire, MathILy, PROMYS, Ross, SUMaC, Texas Honors, MathPath...) that is not centered on competition math, we strongly encourage you to have an instructor from your summer experience write your academic recommendation letter. It doesn't have to be the program's director: choose someone with whom you've talked about math so that they can comment directly on your preparation for Mathcamp. These instructors have experience that is directly comparable to the kind of work we do with students at Mathcamp, so their letters tend to be much more helpful to us than letters from classroom teachers or competition coaches. If you have a very good reason to select a different recommender (e.g. you have a research mentor whom you've worked with more closely), that's fine.
The personal letter should be from another adult who knows you personally, but is not a relative. Personal recommenders are typically not from teachers, unless you've interacted with them in another context – we're looking for someone who knows you outside the classroom. You might submit a personal recommendation letter from:
You can even ask a friend of your family to write the recommendation: pick any adult who knows you well. This letter should address your maturity, independence, social and personal qualities. We are looking for students who are not only good at math, but who will thrive in the atmosphere of freedom and responsibility that characterizes Mathcamp, and who will make a positive contribution to the camp community. Do take the personal recommendation letter seriously! We have lots of ways to learn about your mathematical chops; this is our window into your character.
The one hard and fast rule: your recommendation cannot come from a family member. Even if you are homeschooled, and even if you have mathematical mentors in your family, your recommendations cannot be from a relative.
The other important guideline is that a recommendation should come from a mentor, not from a peer. For example, if you co-founded a math club with a fellow high school student, it might seem reasonable for your fellow club leader to write the letter, but we would much prefer to get a letter from the faculty supervisor for the club. (Pro tip: you can encourage them to check in with your co-founder to get insight about their experience working with you; it's standard practice for recommenders to include comments or even quotes from others as part of the evidence that they're presenting on your behalf.)
In the online application, you will be able to simply enter each recommender's name and email address, and we will send them instructions for submitting the letter.
If you have specific questions about selecting your recommenders, contact us.