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?

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.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.
College and Career Counselor Air 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!

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.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener 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.

Scott Herrmann-Keeling
College 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.

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.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The 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"!

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton 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.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College 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.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela 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.