Steven Spiegel: Helping Students Conquer College Apps, One Letter at a Time


Photo by Afnaan Syed

HHS history teacher Steven Spiegel is one of the most involved faculty members with college applications. “I really love being able to advocate for all the great students we have here.”

Steven Spiegel teaches AP U.S. History (APUSH) along with other social studies courses – and is also writing 67 letters of recommendation this year for students applying to colleges.

Spiegel is a popular choice to write recommendation letters, not only because of his general popularity with students but also due to the connection he builds with them over the two years in which they take APUSH.

“I really enjoy writing them, for a few reasons,” Spiegel said. “I’ve gotten to know these students so well, teaching a two-year course, [so] a lot of times I get a chance to see students grow a lot.”

“It almost seems like there’s a buildup at the end of junior year where I just have these great relationships…getting a chance to kind of jump back into these recs, I think I get a little bit more of that connection back.”

With so many letters to write, Spiegel has developed a consistent yearly routine for getting them all done.

“Generally, I try to outline the letters of rec that I’m gonna be writing in the summer,” Spiegel said. “I usually go up to Maine – my sister lives there – I sit at a café for a few days and outline [the letters].”

“I just kind of relax so that, you know, when the crunch comes at this time of the year, it’s just editing them and putting the finishing touches on those letters of recommendation.”

Spiegel is also aware of the stress that students face during college apps, and he has some advice.

“I think sometimes we get lost in the name of the college, when in reality for so many of my students, no matter where they go, they’re going to thrive and excel,” Spiegel said.

“So it doesn’t necessarily matter so much the name of the school, and I think we get obsessed with that a little bit.”

“Students are gonna do great no matter where they go…take a little pressure off [yourselves], and just kind of enjoy the process.”