Requesting Recommendations

recommendation letterJuniors, this is a good time to request recommendation letters from your teachers for your fall applications.  Most colleges require a minimum of two letters of recommendation from your teachers, and one from your guidance counselor, so check school websites for specific requirements. Also, if you’ve been seriously involved in programs such as science research or athletics, you may want to include a letter from that program director as well.  These letters help admissions representatives to get a better understanding of who you are and what you’ll bring to their classrooms and campus.

Ask teachers who know you and like you, as a student and an individual, to write your recommendation letters.  Chose two academic teachers to write your recommendation, as colleges want to know more about your about your classroom performance.  Good letters offer admissions reps a chance to get to know about your learning style, academic growth and future potential.  Many colleges require that your letters be written by instructors you had in junior or senior year, so ask teachers who have taught you recently.

Helpful tips include:

  • Stop by and ask in person, not by email or voicemail.
  • Offer to give your recommenders a copy of your resume— list your involvement in activities both in and out of school. This will give your teachers and counselor a more complete picture of who you are and help them to write a letter that ties together all your related experiences.
  • Provide you teachers with information that will help them write a more effective letter. Present them with an outline of the highlights of your time spent in their classrooms. List your favorite assignments, provide them with assignment samples, and share what you enjoy most about their class.

Although applications are not due until the fall of senior year,  asking in advance will allow your teachers enough time to write the most thoughtful letters of recommendation on your behalf. Teachers are busy, so don’t wait until the last minute.  Another reason to ask soon is to ensure the teachers of your choice will be the ones writing for you.  Remember, they will be writing for many of your classmates as well.

When you’re back at school next fall, check in to confirm your teachers are writing your recommendations. Once you’ve finalized your list of schools, share it with your recommenders along with the application deadlines for each school.



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