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

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

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

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions 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.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational 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 Milne
Owner Milne 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.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

How well do you write when rushed?

Securing solid recommendation letters requires advance notice.

Reena Gold Kamins
Founder College, 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.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder 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

Jeana Robbins
Counselor

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.

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.

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global 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.

Ryan Aldrich
Director of College Counseling The 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.