Juniors, with finals coming and then summer around the corner, college applications may seem far away. But now is a great time to get a jump start and request recommendation letters from your teachers for your fall applications.
Here are our top tips for securing your best recommendations letters:
- Most colleges require a minimum of two letters of recommendation from your teachers, and one from your guidance counselor. Most require your letters be written by instructors you had in junior or senior year. If possible, ask primary subject teachers. Also, remember, a recommendation will be more valuable if written by a teacher who likes you and knows what kind of learner you are.
- 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’re like to contribute to their classrooms and campus community.
- Make your request for recommendations in person, and do it now. Many teachers receive more requests than they can fulfill, so asking in advance allows them to put you on their list.
- Provide your teachers with information that will help them write the most effective letters. Give them an outline of the highlights of your time spent in their classroom, your favorite assignments and samples of your work. Also, let them know what you enjoy(ed) most about their class. Share any experiences outside the classroom that are relevant to their subject matter. You can also show them your resume. Help them write a letter that ties together all your related experiences.
- In the fall, check back and confirm your writers are onboard. Once you know where you’re applying, give each recommender a list of your schools and the application deadlines. Provide each writer with a recommendation form for each college along with a stamped, addressed envelope, if your high school mails in the forms. If your school participates in an online program such as Naviance, your writers will submit their recommendations electronically.
- Make a list of the schools you are applying to and keep track of your recommendations. Jot down the date you give your teachers the forms and check online or with the colleges as the process progresses to confirm receipt of the letters.
- For down the road, after the letters have been completed, it’s nice to show your appreciation by writing each of your recommenders a hand written note thanking them for their support.