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Tips for Getting a Good Letter of Recommendation

One of the most important parts of your college applications isn’t even written by you, and that’s the Letter of Recommendation. Most private colleges want one counselor and one or two teacher recommendations. Here are some tips for securing good letters of recommendation:

  1. Choose your recommenders wisely. When it comes to choosing whom to ask, you want someone who knows you well enough to write something special about you. The best recommendations provide insight about you and knowledge of your high school success. You want someone to write about your talents, abilities, and more.

    Make certain the recommender is someone who likes you. Make sure to ask a teacher whose class is one where you have great attendance, have few or no tardies, actively participate in class, are well behaved, and get good grades. Most likely you’ll never see the letter that is written about you, so it needs to be from someone you feel comfortable with.

  2. Start Early. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for your letters of recommendation. Your recommender needs time to write a thoughtful and articulate letter. The more time you give your recommender, ideally the more time he or she will have to write something reflective and complete.
  1. Make an appointment to speak with your recommenders. Don’t just thrust the letter template into a teacher’s hand the five minutes you have between periods or tackle a coach in the locker room. Additionally, school counselors usually have a full schedule. Making an appointment shows that you respect that person’s time.
  1. Help your recommender. At your meeting, make sure you give your recommenders everything they might need to write your letter and submit it on time. You gain extra points for yourself because your letter will, more likely, be properly detailed. You gain extra points with recommenders for showing them that you are taking this process seriously and that you appreciate their time and effort.

    Some information to provide includes: your full name, address, email, phone number, and detailed examples of any accomplishments/improvements in a particular teacher’s subject or class. Be careful about sending your recommender your resume. You want that person to write about you as a student in a particular class. You don’t want them listing your activities. But if they ask for it, make sure you have one ready! And for a high school counselor who does not know you too well, you may want to provide your resume.

  2. Follow Up. Remember, your recommenders are doing you a favor. Show your appreciation by sending a thank-you note.

If you have questions on securing Letters of Recommendation contact International College Counselors.