Juniors, college applications may seem far away, but now is the time to request recommendation letters from your teachers. These letters help admissions representatives to get a better understanding of who you are and what you’re likely to contribute to their classrooms and campus community.
Here are our top tips for securing your best recommendations letters:
- Make your request for recommendations in person. Many teachers receive more requests than they can possibly write, so asking in person and in advance gives you a better chance of getting on their list.
- Most colleges require a minimum of two letters of recommendation from your teachers and one from your guidance counselor, and also require your letters be written by instructors you had in junior or senior year. If possible, ask two primary subject teachers to write your letters. Also, remember, a recommendation will be more valuable if written by a teacher who likes you and knows your learning style.
- You may want to include a letter from a teacher or coach who knows you well, if you’ve been seriously involved in a program such as science research or athletics.
- 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. If your high school mails in the forms, provide each writer with a recommendation form for each college along with a stamped, addressed envelope. 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.
- Later, 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.