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Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

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Typically, colleges are looking for letters of recommendation from your junior or senior year.  Since many people will be applying early decision or early action, they are required to send their applications out in October.  Most senior year teachers will not know you well enough by then to write you a good letter of recommendation.  Thus, the end of junior year is a perfect time to start asking for a letter of recommendation.  We have included this article to help you in your quest for “good” letters of recommendation.  

Many students don’t give much thought to asking their teachers for recommendations, they just think about who they might ask. And even that decision doesn’t always mean that much to students. Recommendations can really work to your advantage in the college admissions process if you choose carefully, and offer teachers the same courtesy you would hope for if someone was asking a favor of you. Keep in mind the following tips when asking a teacher, peer, or family friend for a college recommendation:

 

  • It is better to ask the teacher whose class you worked extra hard in but received a “B” rather than the teacher of a a class where you received an “A” but she knows you put in little to no work.
  • You should ask a teacher you had in your junior year, or a teacher you had more than once.
  • You should ask a teacher who you feels knows you, and you have participated in his class. If you received an A but didnt offer any information or answer any questions, you may want to choose a teacher you know feels you participate.
  • Give them time. Just like you wouldnt want someone to ask you a favor at the last minute, dont do the same to them. Some teachers will have quotas for how many recommendations they will write in a given semester, so even if your teacher likes you and you have done well in her class, if she is already writing a dozen others then she may tell you no.
  • Make it easy. Remember, your teacher, coach or community leader is doing YOU a favor. Give each person packets for each school they need to mail your recs to. Label and put stamps and addresses on each envelope and paper clip the forms they need to fill out. Do not make them guess or organize your information.
  • More recs is not necessaily better. Send as many as your school asks for. If you have one more shining recommendation from someone else, ask the school if they accept extra information. Make sure admissions will read it before that person puts in the effort.
  • If the school “suggests” recommendations but doesnt require them, send them anyway. It will only help you if you have a letter decribing your strengths.
  • If you are not sure if you should ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation or not, start by telling the teacher, “I am beginning to think about whom I am going to ask to write me a letter of recommendation, would you be willing to write one for me?”  If they teacher hesitates, don’t ask that teacher.  If he or she sounds very excited, then this is probably a good person to ask.

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26 Responses to “Asking for a Letter of Recommendation”

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