Don’t Leave for Summer Break without a Letter of Recommendation
One of the most important parts of a college application isn’t even completed by students: the Letter of Recommendation. Most private colleges require one counselor and one or two teacher recommendations. Of the colleges that request letters of recommendation, many consider them to be of “considerable importance” or “moderate importance” in factoring admissions decisions, so students should make sure they get the best ones possible. additional recommender.
If your student had a good year with a teacher, have them ask for the letter now! Your student is fresh in the teacher’s mind now. The reality is, teachers work with many, many students. Their memories of a student will lessen as time goes by and, next year, they will have entirely new classes of students to work with. Waiting until next year also means many of your student’s peers will be asking for letters at the same time. When teachers have more time, they can give the letter more thought.
Make certain the recommender is someone who likes your student. Make sure to ask a teacher whose class is one where your student has great attendance, actively participates in class, is well behaved, and gets good grades. Most likely students and parents will never see the letter that is written, so it needs to be from someone the student feels comfortable with.
2. Choose someone who teaches a core subject. Some colleges specify that at least one (or all) recommendation letters must be from a teacher in a core subject (math, English, science, history, or foreign language). If the college does not specify, students should still include at least one core teacher. For any additional letters of recommendation that may be allowed, keep in mind the subjects or activities about which the student is most passionate. For example, the editor of the school newspaper may include their journalism teacher as their additional recommender.
3. Students: ask your recommender. With the Common Application and Coalition Application, students can just add a teacher’s name as a recommender. Do not do this. Students should make an appointment to speak with their recommender, and then ask them if they will write the recommendation. Asking a teacher directly and making an appointment shows that your student respects that person’s time and opinion.
4. Help the recommender. At the meeting, students should make sure they give their recommenders everything they might need to write the letter and submit it on time. Some information to provide includes: the student’s full name, address, email, phone number, which colleges require a recommendation, deadlines, and detailed examples of any accomplishments/improvements in a particular teacher’s subject or class. Be careful about sending a recommender a resume. You want that person to write about the student as they were in a particular class. You don’t want them listing your student’s activities. But if they ask for it, make sure your student has one ready!
5. Follow Up. Remember, recommenders are doing a favor. Students should show their appreciation by sending a thank-you note.
International College Counselors will send out another blog in September reminding students to get additional letters of recommendations, such as the one from their counselor. The more time given to a recommender, ideally the more time he or she will have to write something reflective and complete.