Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

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Our Counselors Answered:

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Keith BermanPresidentOptions for College, Inc.

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

This is a tough question. If you asked for the recommendation long in advance, have brought the relevant envelopes, forms, resumes, etc., and have already discussed academic aspirations with the teacher, then making sure the teacher meets the deadline is a completely reasonable thing to do. However, if you brought in all the materials scattershot or at the last minute, you are going to have to be patient. Teacher recommendations are not part of the job description for your high school faculty — they are a big favor, so make sure that you approach them as such.

Keith BermanPresidentOptions for College, Inc.

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

This is a tough question. If you asked for the recommendation long in advance, have brought the relevant envelopes, forms, resumes, etc., and have already discussed academic aspirations with the teacher, then making sure the teacher meets the deadline is a completely reasonable thing to do. However, if you brought in all the materials scattershot or at the last minute, you are going to have to be patient. Teacher recommendations are not part of the job description for your high school faculty — they are a big favor, so make sure that you approach them as such.

Keith BermanPresidentOptions for College, Inc.

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

This is a tough question. If you asked for the recommendation long in advance, have brought the relevant envelopes, forms, resumes, etc., and have already discussed academic aspirations with the teacher, then making sure the teacher meets the deadline is a completely reasonable thing to do. However, if you brought in all the materials scattershot or at the last minute, you are going to have to be patient. Teacher recommendations are not part of the job description for your high school faculty — they are a big favor, so make sure that you approach them as such.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

I am now working as an independent college advisor, but as a former high school Guidance Counselor, I realize how unfair it is for students to ask for recommendation letters at the last minute. The person you are asking for the recommendation will undoubtedly want to write a good letter that will work to your advantage in the application process, but the recommender also has other commitments, has probably been asked for recommendation letters from other students, and may not have time to do your recommendation justice if you don’t permit him/her to have sufficient time to formulate the letter. Don’t wait until the last minute to make these recommendation requests! A teacher recommendation will focus primarily on the experience that the teacher had with you in his/her class, but it could facilitate the process somewhat if you provide your CV/resume along with your recommendation request. Make sure that the recommender knows exactly how to deal with the recommendation, whether that involves providing a stamped addressed envelope, asking that the recommendation be given to the Guidance Counselor to submit with other materials, or submitting the recommendation online, as is now commonly done.

Mary Mariani

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

If the student provides the writer with enough information about himself/herself, there is a better chance that the results will be good. Too often students will ask for a letter and not provide enough information or to whom the letter should be written too. If the request is done at the last minute, make sure a stamped,addressed envelope is provided along with information that will assist the writer in producing a good letter.

Mary Mariani

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

If the student provides the writer with enough information about himself/herself, there is a better chance that the results will be good. Too often students will ask for a letter and not provide enough information or to whom the letter should be written too. If the request is done at the last minute, make sure a stamped,addressed envelope is provided along with information that will assist the writer in producing a good letter.

Greer BevelUniversity Counselor/IBDP History TeacherInternational School of Latvia

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

As a teacher and a college counselor, I say: “Why would you want to speed such an important process up?” Approach your recommendation writer well in advance of your application to college. Also, provide your recommendation writer with a resume so that they may mention things about you that they were unaware of. It is also a good idea to provide your writer (if they are one of your teachers) with samples of successful papers you wrote in their course. It will give them fresh examples to use within your recommendation letter. Time is crucial to composing a meaningful and descriptive recommendation for you. I urge you not to rush this process or wait until the last minute to ask someone to write a recommendation for you.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.College and Career CounselorAir Academy High School

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Students can do a few things to get letters of recommendation, faster. Number one is to ask your teachers as early as possible. Don’t wait until the teacher already has 10 requests; be the first one to request the letter. Number two is to give the teacher as much information as possible to write your letter. Give them a resume detailing your honors, awards, classes, extracurricular activities, community service, employment, athletics, etc. The more information you give a letter of recommendation writer, the better letter you will get. Make sure you include reminders and thank you notes to teachers for writing your letter. A giftcard with a thank you note is a nice way of reminding the teacher when you need your letter by!

Eric Beers, Ph.D.College and Career CounselorAir Academy High School

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Students can do a few things to get letters of recommendation, faster. Number one is to ask your teachers as early as possible. Don’t wait until the teacher already has 10 requests; be the first one to request the letter. Number two is to give the teacher as much information as possible to write your letter. Give them a resume detailing your honors, awards, classes, extracurricular activities, community service, employment, athletics, etc. The more information you give a letter of recommendation writer, the better letter you will get. Make sure you include reminders and thank you notes to teachers for writing your letter. A giftcard with a thank you note is a nice way of reminding the teacher when you need your letter by!

Eric Beers, Ph.D.College and Career CounselorAir Academy High School

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Students can do a few things to get letters of recommendation, faster. Number one is to ask your teachers as early as possible. Don’t wait until the teacher already has 10 requests; be the first one to request the letter. Number two is to give the teacher as much information as possible to write your letter. Give them a resume detailing your honors, awards, classes, extracurricular activities, community service, employment, athletics, etc. The more information you give a letter of recommendation writer, the better letter you will get. Make sure you include reminders and thank you notes to teachers for writing your letter. A giftcard with a thank you note is a nice way of reminding the teacher when you need your letter by!

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Please feel free to read my other responses in this category. I believe the best advice here is for the student to bring their selected person all the materials they will need in order to make the best recommendation. Supplying them with the forms, a stamped envelop, a list of topics you feel they would be best positioned to answer based on who they are and a resume or list of your accomplishments in addition to any other relevant information you feel they may need to jog their memory about you. Even if it is a terrific paper you wrote for them. All of this can be helpful and will speed up the amount of time they need to complete the task for you. It also may put your letter to the top of their to-do pile since it would probably require the least effort on their part in relation to the other students making the same request of them during this time of year.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Please feel free to read my other responses in this category. I believe the best advice here is for the student to bring their selected person all the materials they will need in order to make the best recommendation. Supplying them with the forms, a stamped envelop, a list of topics you feel they would be best positioned to answer based on who they are and a resume or list of your accomplishments in addition to any other relevant information you feel they may need to jog their memory about you. Even if it is a terrific paper you wrote for them. All of this can be helpful and will speed up the amount of time they need to complete the task for you. It also may put your letter to the top of their to-do pile since it would probably require the least effort on their part in relation to the other students making the same request of them during this time of year.

Scott Herrmann-KeelingCollege Counselor

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

While planning ahead is the best way to proceed with letters of recommendation, life doesn’t always allow for that. If you are in need of a letter quickly, there are steps you can take to ensure your recommender has the information to write the best letter possible under the circumstances. If you truly need a letter quickly, it would be a good idea to sit down face to face with the teacher and explain the situation. Be honest about why you are asking for this favor at this time and why you think this teacher is a good choice to write on your behalf. Depending on when you had the teacher in class, it may help to mention a project, paper, or assignment that will help the teacher remember your contributions to the course. If you aren’t sure how well the teacher knows you outside of class and/or you want to look good and prepared, bring a resume with you to the meeting. Once your teacher has agreed to write, provide a copy of the resume and mention anything you hope the teacher will include in the letter. Make sure your teacher knows what the letter is for; if it’s a particular school or scholarship, tailoring the letter to include specific, relevant information can increase its effectiveness.

Scott Herrmann-KeelingCollege Counselor

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

While planning ahead is the best way to proceed with letters of recommendation, life doesn’t always allow for that. If you are in need of a letter quickly, there are steps you can take to ensure your recommender has the information to write the best letter possible under the circumstances. If you truly need a letter quickly, it would be a good idea to sit down face to face with the teacher and explain the situation. Be honest about why you are asking for this favor at this time and why you think this teacher is a good choice to write on your behalf. Depending on when you had the teacher in class, it may help to mention a project, paper, or assignment that will help the teacher remember your contributions to the course. If you aren’t sure how well the teacher knows you outside of class and/or you want to look good and prepared, bring a resume with you to the meeting. Once your teacher has agreed to write, provide a copy of the resume and mention anything you hope the teacher will include in the letter. Make sure your teacher knows what the letter is for; if it’s a particular school or scholarship, tailoring the letter to include specific, relevant information can increase its effectiveness.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Providing teachers and counselors with enough time to write a letter is important, but if you are in a hurry, ask as early as possible and a friendly reminder can’t hurt. Provide them with all of the forms ahead of time (envelopes, addresses, dates, etc.) and don’t forget a “thank you”!

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Yes! You read my mind! Here’s one of my favorite caveats: Plan your work, work your plan. No one plans to fail, but too many fail to plan. Best time to get LOR’s is after Jan. in the 10th, 11th, or even the 9th grade. At that time of year, teachers are no longer bombarded w/requests from desperate students. They’ll have plenty of time to write a great LOR. Be sure to give them the name & address of the director of admissions at specific colleges you’re applying to. Otherwise, if they address it To whom it may concern; that’s the same as Dear Occupant, & we all know where that mail winds up! I’ve had situations where the teacher asked the student to write something & they signed it, but that was only after I enhanced it and it went back to the teacher for their final approval & signature.

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

Recommendation Process

A student can have a timely recommendation by first asking the teachers, counselors etc near the end of your junior year if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation and what would they need from you to do so. Typically, they will say a resume of all of your activities and involvements in school and in the community. Remember most teachers see you in one light (their classroom) and that is not sufficient to write a great letter of recommendation. I require a resume and a seperate list of activities with your role and an accomplishment that you are proud of in that role. Remember the people writing recommendations are being asked by hundreds of students and if you do not want a template letter than give them a complete picture of who you are early enough so they will not feel rushed and can write your letter not a generic letter.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

It is important to carefully plan who should write your letters of recommendation. This planning should allow your writers an allotted period of time. Two weeks is typically an acceptable period of time. Certain circumstances may require that students speed up this process. When this is necessary, students should be sure to express the urgency to teachers and recognize that teachers may not be able to write as powerful of a letter considering the time constraint. Some teachers may not be able to write a letter under a time constraint because of other obligations. Because of this, students should have alternate teachers to consider asking.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

It is important to carefully plan who should write your letters of recommendation. This planning should allow your writers an allotted period of time. Two weeks is typically an acceptable period of time. Certain circumstances may require that students speed up this process. When this is necessary, students should be sure to express the urgency to teachers and recognize that teachers may not be able to write as powerful of a letter considering the time constraint. Some teachers may not be able to write a letter under a time constraint because of other obligations. Because of this, students should have alternate teachers to consider asking.

Francine SchwartzFounder/ PresidentPathfinder Counseling LLC

Speeding up the process

I don’t think you can get the results you desire by doing things quickly or last minute. The best way to get great letters of recommendation is to plan ahead. Decide junior year who you want to ask and prepare your teacher or other recommender by providing a resume and a sample of work from their class.

Francine SchwartzFounder/ PresidentPathfinder Counseling LLC

Speeding up the process

I don’t think you can get the results you desire by doing things quickly or last minute. The best way to get great letters of recommendation is to plan ahead. Decide junior year who you want to ask and prepare your teacher or other recommender by providing a resume and a sample of work from their class. Francine Schwartz M.A., LPC, NCC Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Don’t Rush Things. Good Recommendations Take Time.

Speed is not necessarily of the essence or even a valuable thing for an applicant to pursue, because ultimately the schools want to hear from people who really know the student–indeed, if they have had the chance to interact in multiple settings–in class, in co-curriculars, in clubs, what have you—then that can make for a more fully developed picture. Too, a teacher that may have had you more than once, especially as an underclassman and then again as a senior, can offer some valuable insight into how you have developed, and that is all to the good. All of this takes time. Yes, it is OK to think about who might be a good person to do your recommendations, but there is no need to rush the decision or get a premature letter.

Kristina DooleyIndependent Educational ConsultantEstrela Consulting

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Students shouldn’t rush the recommendation letter process. By giving your teachers or counselors a limited amount of time to complete their recommendations, you’re also giving them less time to write a thoughtful, comprehensive, and strong recommendation for you…not a great thing when it’s a main part of your application.

Reena Gold KaminsFounderCollege, Career & Life, LLC.

Ask for recommendation letters at the end of junior year.

Some teachers now request that students notify them at the end of their junior year, if they want to have a letter of recommendation. This allows the teacher to write the letter over the summer. This is beneficial for the teacher because she has fewer things on her plate; and, it’s beneficial for the student because his performance is freshest in the teacher’s mind.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Only if you are very nice or lucky, but I wouldn’t try it.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Start early and have all of your materials well organized.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Sure. But be respectful in how you approach your high school teachers. Give them gentle reminders. And for God’s sake, don’t have your parents call or email them. You need to be the grown up and do it yourself. You should approach your teacher at the end of your Junior Year. Be proactive. When you get back to school in the fall of your senior year, schedule a meeting with the teacher and talk to them about writing the letter and if you could provide them with any information that would help them. Then, thank them.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Sure. But be respectful in how you approach your high school teachers. Give them gentle reminders. And for God’s sake, don’t have your parents call or email them. You need to be the grown up and do it yourself. You should approach your teacher at the end of your Junior Year. Be proactive. When you get back to school in the fall of your senior year, schedule a meeting with the teacher and talk to them about writing the letter and if you could provide them with any information that would help them. Then, thank them.

Megan DorseySAT Prep & College AdvisorCollege Prep LLC

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Can you do me a favor? And can you drop everything and do it now? This question implies you are working with a deadline and are already behind, something I advise all my students to avoid. Yes, you can speed up the process and obtain great results if you initiate the process early. If a teacher or counselor has already written a quality letter for you (maybe for a scholarship junior year), you may be able to get an updated letter in a matter of days. Make your request early to avoid the application deadline rush. Keep in mind you are asking your teachers and counselor for a favor. Most will be happy to oblige, but ask politely and respect the deadlines and timeline they give.

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

At certain times of year, professors – especially popular profs – are bound to be flooded with requests for recommendation letters. After all, students apply for internships, research positions, study abroad programs, transfers and grad school. There is no better way of getting a recommendation early than getting to know the professor early in the semester; do this by stopping by at office hours or adding insightful comments during class. If you think you’ll need a recommendation from a professor from a previous semester, get that request in early. Don’t get stuck in the pile! Remember, writing recommendations is part of a professor’s job. The professor will remember you if you have shown that professor that you care about his or her subject and are responsible about getting your own submissions in on time.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

yes, you can. give your teacher a list of background and introduction about yourself. prepare the mailing yourself and add deadline to the letter.

Wendy Smith

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

When you hand them your information, ask your teachers if they have any questions for you, or if they’d like to see any papers you’ve written for their classes.  They might remember something that could help with your recommendation — something that you may not have thought about.  Make sure they have any and all information they might want at their disposal.  You don’t want half-page letters; give them enough to write about.

Ronald Smith

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Give your teachers something to work with.  Don’t just expect them to know your life and academic history by rote.  Along with the official letter forms, provide them with a resume or a mini-bio, and make sure to include important elements like Honors/AP/IB classes you’ve taken,  extracurriculars you’re involved in, major essays or projects you’ve done for their class, a list of classes you’ve taken with them (if there are more than one) and when, any awards you’ve won (history day, debate team, etc), what sort of college program(s) you are applying to, and any leadership roles you’ve held, such as clubs, sports, lab groups, and more.

Tammy Smith

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Give your teachers the basic facts, which they can use to strengthen the points they’re making about your character.  If your biology teacher wants to write that you take initiative, it looks good if she can back that up with a comment, say, about how you led a project to the wetlands the month before.  If your math teacher is also your tennis coach, help him remember that you were a Math League participant as well as a state-qualifier in Doubles.

Sheila Smith

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Make sure you approach your teachers early. The best recommenders will often have the most recommendations to write, and they will be inundated with requests around the time that students are applying to college. Give your teachers a heads-up well in advance so that they have plenty of time to think about you and write your letter.

Mark Smith

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Choose teachers that know you well.  Getting an A+ in a class will not necessarily mean you’ll get a good recommendation.  That said, the class in which you’ve done well and in which you have a good relationship with the teacher is naturally the best option.  If you’re unsure, you may even want to schedule a meeting with the teacher outside of class to discuss your progress in the course, as well as your college interests and aspirations.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Asking early is the smartest way to do this. If you ask your recommenders during the spring of your junior year, it gives them the time to write the letter. If you waited and it is now due to the college soon, the best way to speed it up is to ask the person very nicely and acknowledge that you know you are asking later than you should, and that you are very sorry and appreciative. Give the person information about yourself to help them with the letter

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Asking early is the smartest way to do this. If you ask your recommenders during the spring of your junior year, it gives them the time to write the letter. If you waited and it is now due to the college soon, the best way to speed it up is to ask the person very nicely and acknowledge that you know you are asking later than you should, and that you are very sorry and appreciative. Give the person information about yourself to help them with the letter such as a resume with your activities and also a sheet of paper explaining what was important to you about the class you had with him/her. Other information the teacher might find helpful includes: academic areas of interest (majors), summer plans, career aspirations, and colleges you are considering.

Annie ReznikCounselor/CEOCollege Guidance Coach

How well do you write when rushed?

Securing solid recommendation letters requires advance notice.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

The best way to make sure that all of your recommendation letters are submitted by your teachers in a timely fashion is to show courtesy to your recommenders by informing them of your requests as early as possible. Ask them if they would write you a letter as soon as possible — even as early as the spring of your junior year. Provide them with the requisite information as soon as possible. If you are applying through the Common Application, let your recommenders know this so that they can choose to submit their letters electronically.

Brian D. CrispFounder and PresidentCrisp Consulting + Coaching; Burton College Tours

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In the arena of sport, speed is often a desired trait. In the arena of college applications and selective college admission, thoughtful approaches are desired. Focusing on strategies and outcomes will be beneficial. Although speed is never suggested, you can streamline the process by identifying the teachers that will write the most effective and positive letters of recommendations. When teachers agree to write your letters, be prepared and have copies of your transcripts and activities sheet for their reference. Creating a calendar with deadlines will also keep the process moving in a timely direction. This process may not be fast, yet it will be effective and assist in realizing your admission goals.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

Ask for the recommendation early!

The best way for speeding up the process is to get in the queue early. If you are asking a popular teacher for a recommendation then you need to make certain you are not only asking for it in plenty of time but that you are one of the first to do so.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Recommendations

The only way I know to help move the reference process along is to provide the recommender with a resume/bio sheet to work from. Often the teacher doesn’t know you beyond their classroom and it is helpful to give them some context to work with. By giving your reference plenty of lead time, you should feel confident that the result will be beneficial. No one likes to feel like they are under the gun, so don’t set up this dynamic with the person you are asking to do you a favor. Make your deadline/timeline clear, touch base in a few days for a status update, but don’t pester the person.

Helen Cella

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

Providing teachers with a resume and reminding them of details helps

Ryan AldrichDirector of College CounselingThe White Mountain School

Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

A student that plans ahead and requests a recommendation early will not need to ‘speed up’ the writing process for teachers. Teachers have many obligations and like to be given advance warning of at least two weeks to write a strong letter. It is when teachers are rushed by students who have neglected to give them enough time that recommendations are not as strong as they could be. Therefore, as early as your junior spring, students can consider what teachers to ask and request a letter before the summer break.

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