Letters of recommendation are often required when you apply to college. The following are some strategies to help you select those teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, coaches, employers, or community service supervisors that will write appropriate letters of recommendation for you.
Select your “recommenders” carefully – Make a list of people who know you the best, those who can offer a testimony from their own personal experience such as teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, coaches, employers, or community service supervisors. The purpose of the recommendation is to help the admissions officers know you better as a person. Be sure to include at least one academic teacher who has had you in class.
Focus your list – What would you like the colleges to know about you that your school records will not communicate? What makes you special, sets you apart as a student? Who can define and describe you most insightfully? Choose people you believe can write well, since the way a person puts something on paper is important. Begin thinking about prospective “recommenders” in the spring of junior year.
Request, don’t demand – You need to ask if this person is willing to write a letter of reference for you. Spend some time with your “recommender” and let he/she know where you are applying and why. Seek a spirited writer who can provide an accurate description of your abilities, talents, and attitude. It takes a good deal of thought and time to do a good job.
Help your “recommender” – Some teachers may request specific information. You are responsible for providing the requested information, usually an unofficial transcript and a copy of the Recommendation Information Form. Most teachers submit their letters though the transcript package, therefore, please remind teachers that they must submit their recommendation letter for you to the Guidance Office at least one week prior to the earliest application deadline. Once your transcript package has been mailed by the Guidance Department to the college(s) of your choice, you are responsible for providing stamped, self-addressed envelopes to each recommending teacher. Also, if a teacher prefers to mail the letter directly to the college/university you must provide stamped, self-addressed envelopes to the teacher. If an application contains a separate Teacher Recommendation Form, please be sure to give that form to your recommending teachers.
Say thank you – Be sure to send a note of gratitude to the person who wrote the recommendation. This will be very much appreciated.
Recommendation Information Form
Student Name: ___________________________________________________________________________________
Teacher Name: ___________________________________________________________________________________
First Application Deadline Date: ___________________________________________________________________________________
(Teacher recommendations are due to the Guidance Office at least one week prior to this date.)
Thank you for your willingness to write a letter of recommendation for me. The information provided on this sheet is intended to assist you in writing the letter. Please forward my letter to the Guidance Office for inclusion in the transcript package. Thank you so much for your support!
I was in your _____________________________________________________________________ class(es) and my semester grade(s) were _______________________________________________
I’ve asked you to write this letter for me because…
The most memorable moment in your class for me was…
The most challenging part of your class was…
Some suggested guidelines for writing the Teacher Recommendation
How long and in what context have you known the student?
Please feel free to write whatever you think is important about the student, including a description of academic and personal characteristics.
Colleges are particularly interested in the student’s intellectual promise, motivation, relative maturity, integrity, independence, work habits, and the like.