Are you looking to make your college application the best it can be? A letter of recommendation can be a major part of how colleges view you; here are some steps to help you through the process of asking your teachers for letters of recommendation.
Pick the Right People
In your college application, you typically want to cover all important aspects of who you are, without repeating any one specific detail about you. Find teachers that will be able to vouch for you in areas that are not covered in other parts of your application.
1. Follow the rules when it comes to who you are asking. Schools typically ask for particular types of reviewers:
First Year Recommender Types
- Other Recommender
Transfer Recommender Types
- High School Official
2. Pick teachers who have the best stories about you. It is always a good idea to pick a teacher that knows something special about you, such as experiences outside of class time. You may also want to pick a teacher who teaches a subject related to your intended major.
3. Pick people who know how to tell stories. Even if you have a teacher who loves you, they might be a bad writer. Pick teachers who you know will be able to clearly express the person you are.
4. Be aware of the questions they are going to be asked. Some colleges will ask teachers to rate their students in different categories, from responsibility to leadership. Pick a teacher that will give you high ratings in most of these areas.
After deciding on which teacher(s) you are going to ask, shoot them an email, preferably at the beginning of the year. Asking them in person might put them on the spot and encourage them to accept your request even if they are unsure. This may lead to a mediocre letter of recommendation. When asking them, remember to compliment them and explain why you chose them. Tell them what is expected, including all the due dates. If they say no, move on. The teacher may be hesitant to write you a stellar essay, or they just may not have enough time. Either way, thank them for their time.
Provide Information for your Recommendation Letter
If your recommender says yes, send another email providing all necessary information in a resume/brag sheet. This should list out all relevant accomplishments or experiences you had in their class. You may also want to send over your Common App essays or outlines, which will help your teacher understand the angle you are trying to take. Point out any specific abilities or traits of yours that you want them to cover. This email should also contain a list of colleges you are applying to and their due dates.
Follow up with the person a few days before the due date, just to confirm that they are on track to submit your letter of recommendation.
Thank the Person for Writing your Recommendation Letter
After your application is submitted, send a thank you email for taking time to write a recommendation for you.
Update the Person
Check in and update the recommender on what schools you have been accepted to, and which one you plan on intending. Your recommender will be excited to find out where you are going!
We wish you the best of luck in your college applications!
If you’re looking for more information on applying to top schools, check out our blog, “How I Got Into Harvard.”