I will shortly be in the somewhat rare position of applying to software development positions straight out of high school. (This is fixed; please do not attempt to change my mind on this.) As part of the college process, my school writes three letters of reference: one by a science/math teacher, one by a humanities/history teacher, and one by the school in general. Students are asked to sign a FERPA waiver, which basically says that the student for whom a recommendation letter is written can never in their lifetime read the letter. The general idea is to give high schools the discretion to say what they want about a student, be that good or bad.

I have spoken with my college counselor and if I asked, my high school would be willing to send these letters of recommendation on to any company I might apply for.

In general, I've mostly heard about recommendations by phone and not by letter in the corporate world. This Workplace.SE question seems to support that. I can certainly supply references, both at school and not, who would be willing to recommend me by private phone call. My question is whether, in addition to my phone references, I should provide the letters of recommendation from school to any companies that ask for references?

  • Put the kettle on and open it. Bung it in a new envelope
    – Ed Heal
    Sep 13, 2014 at 5:25

1 Answer 1


My answer is based on the presumption that you are applying for a regular, full-time software engineering position:

  1. Your high school letters of recommendation are designed for one purpose: to endorse your suitability for academic work at the educational institution that is asking for them. What academic work are you planning to pursue at the companies you are applying to?

  2. Since you will be expected to code, what can your math/science teacher and your humanities/English teacher knowledgeably say in your letters of recommendation about your ability to code?

  • Good point! Neither of those letters directly relate to my ability to code. In a more general sense, the third letter (the general one from the school) might help describe my work ethic, which I imagine could be of interest to an employer? I assume they care about more than raw technical skill Sep 12, 2014 at 3:02
  • And yes, I am applying for regular, full-time positions Sep 12, 2014 at 3:04
  • Not sure about you, but where I went to high school, the computer programming teachers were also math teachers. They were the only ones in the school who could have addressed my ability to code. Given that's decades ago and was in a rural area and that the OP's profile puts him (her?) in Boston, I'd expect some programming classes to have been available and as a potential employer I'd want to see what the programming teacher(s) had to say.
    – GreenMatt
    Sep 12, 2014 at 3:17
  • 1
    @raptortech97 I read your profile. No need to belabor the point about your work ethic. If you haven't sold them on your work ethic within the first 15 seconds of your interview, I don't want to know that you ever existed :) Sep 12, 2014 at 3:20
  • @GreenMatt my school does offer programming courses, and I have taken them for all 4 years of high school. However, we got a new teacher last year and I doubt her ability to give me a strong recommendation at this point. In addition, the faculty choose who write which recommendations and I'm pretty sure she didn't write mine. Btw, I go by they/them/their pronouns. Sep 12, 2014 at 3:25

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