How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

College Admissions

Our Counselors Answered:

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Ryan AldrichDirector of College CounselingThe White Mountain School

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Students need to be genuine. Strategically planning for a great teacher recommendation is staged and insincere. A student ought to ask a teacher for a recommendation based on personal connection, engagement, and passion for the subject area. Furthermore, a recommendation letter that is considered ‘great’ by one college may be interpreted differently at another school.

Helen Cella

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning can help, it’s important to keep in mind that not only does the teacher need to say nice things about the student, but they need to say it well.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Teacher recommendations

It’s always the same teachers who get asked for recs. Do your teacher a favor and give them plenty of lead time. I love my clients to request recs before summer vacation of senior year. This gives the teacher plenty of time and avoids the typical crunch time in the fall. Offer to sit down with the teacher and talk about your future, interests outside their classroom, etc. Or, create a brief resume since often the teacher only knows you from that class viewpoint. You are flattering a teacher by letting them know you valued the education you received from them. Teachers teach because they enjoy watching their students learn and mature. They are on your team, don’t be shy about approaching them.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

Avoid waiting for the last minute…

If you are proactive, you can create a recommendation request letter to give to your selected teachers. For each, you could include a particular event or project or accomplishment that you want the teacher to remember and that might remind the teacher of some of your interesting or exceptional qualities that she could comment on in the letter.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

An informed recommendation is the best recommendation.

Planning in itself can’t increase the chances of getting a great teacher recommendation. Your performance in their class and how they observe you using your new found knowledge outside of the context in which it was gained in their class are the things that typically lead to a great recommendation. But there are steps that you can take that will ensure that when the teacher most capable of doing this task for you accepts your invitation to do this, they are equipped to do it efficiently and effectively. First, you should identify the teacher based on the academic area to which you will apply. For example, your accounting teacher is probably more appropriate than your music theory teacher to write a recommendation for you if you are applying to major in accounting. Second, when you ask the teacher, be prepared with a great “one minute elevator” speech. In other words, you have one minute to ask the teacher to write the recommendation but it must also be convincing and genuine. When you ask, it is important to explain why you have chosen them and what you would hope they would discuss in the recommendation. This helps to frame in their mind the context of the recommendation and their ability to achieve your request without putting too much burden on their workload. Remember, good and popular teachers tend to be asked a lot and at some point they have to start saying no. If you currently have them for a class it makes asking all the easier because they are currently familiar with your work. Third, be prepared to give the teacher a copy of the curriculum for your major from the school to which you will apply as well as any instructions for them to follow in preparing the letter. Some schools are seeking very specific information from teachers about their future students. Fourth, make a list of the attributes or accomplishments that you have achieved in high school and especially bring their attention to the ones which they have specific knowledge about your abilities. Fifth, it is always a good idea to give them an example of your work and especially well done assignments that you had completed for them. This will help to remind them about the quality of your work and other attributes that they have associated with you since they have gotten to know you. Sixth, provide them with a copy of your future career and intended major goals. They need to better understand where you see yourself going and how this school may be the right place to help you accomplish those goals. Next, remember to provide them with a stamped and addressed envelope if it is to be mailed to your school. Most importantly, remember to thank them for completing the letter and follow up with them about the final outcome of your applications. I am sure they would like to know how the end of your application story turns out.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

An informed recommendation is the best recommendation.

Planning in itself can’t increase the chances of getting a great teacher recommendation. Your performance in their class and how they observe you using your new found knowledge outside of the context in which it was gained in their class are the things that typically lead to a great recommendation. But there are steps that you can take that will ensure that when the teacher most capable of doing this task for you accepts your invitation to do this, they are equipped to do it efficiently and effectively. First, you should identify the teacher based on the academic area to which you will apply. For example, your accounting teacher is probably more appropriate than your music theory teacher to write a recommendation for you if you are applying to major in accounting. Second, when you ask the teacher, be prepared with a great “one minute elevator” speech. In other words, you have one minute to ask the teacher to write the recommendation but it must also be convincing and genuine. When you ask, it is important to explain why you have chosen them and what you would hope they would discuss in the recommendation. This helps to frame in their mind the context of the recommendation and their ability to achieve your request without putting too much burden on their workload. Remember, good and popular teachers tend to be asked a lot and at some point they have to start saying no. If you currently have them for a class it makes asking all the easier because they are currently familiar with your work. Third, be prepared to give the teacher a copy of the curriculum for your major from the school to which you will apply as well as any instructions for them to follow in preparing the letter. Some schools are seeking very specific information from teachers about their future students. Fourth, make a list of the attributes or accomplishments that you have achieved in high school and especially bring their attention to the ones which they have specific knowledge about your abilities. Fifth, it is always a good idea to give them an example of your work and especially well done assignments that you had completed for them. This will help to remind them about the quality of your work and other attributes that they have associated with you since they have gotten to know you. Sixth, provide them with a copy of your future career and intended major goals. They need to better understand where you see yourself going and how this school may be the right place to help you accomplish those goals. Next, remember to provide them with a stamped and addressed envelope if it is to be mailed to your school. Most importantly, remember to thank them for completing the letter and follow up with them about the final outcome of your applications. I am sure they would like to know how the end of your application story turns out.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

An informed recommendation is the best recommendation.

Planning in itself can’t increase the chances of getting a great teacher recommendation. Your performance in their class and how they observe you using your new found knowledge outside of the context in which it was gained in their class are the things that typically lead to a great recommendation. But there are steps that you can take that will ensure that when the teacher most capable of doing this task for you accepts your invitation to do this, they are equipped to do it efficiently and effectively. First, you should identify the teacher based on the academic area to which you will apply. For example, your accounting teacher is probably more appropriate than your music theory teacher to write a recommendation for you if you are applying to major in accounting. Second, when you ask the teacher, be prepared with a great “one minute elevator” speech. In other words, you have one minute to ask the teacher to write the recommendation but it must also be convincing and genuine. When you ask, it is important to explain why you have chosen them and what you would hope they would discuss in the recommendation. This helps to frame in their mind the context of the recommendation and their ability to achieve your request without putting too much burden on their workload. Remember, good and popular teachers tend to be asked a lot and at some point they have to start saying no. If you currently have them for a class it makes asking all the easier because they are currently familiar with your work. Third, be prepared to give the teacher a copy of the curriculum for your major from the school to which you will apply as well as any instructions for them to follow in preparing the letter. Some schools are seeking very specific information from teachers about their future students. Fourth, make a list of the attributes or accomplishments that you have achieved in high school and especially bring their attention to the ones which they have specific knowledge about your abilities. Fifth, it is always a good idea to give them an example of your work and especially well done assignments that you had completed for them. This will help to remind them about the quality of your work and other attributes that they have associated with you since they have gotten to know you. Sixth, provide them with a copy of your future career and intended major goals. They need to better understand where you see yourself going and how this school may be the right place to help you accomplish those goals. Next, remember to provide them with a stamped and addressed envelope if it is to be mailed to your school. Most importantly, remember to thank them for completing the letter and follow up with them about the final outcome of your applications. I am sure they would like to know how the end of your application story turns out.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

An informed recommendation is the best recommendation.

Planning in itself can’t increase the chances of getting a great teacher recommendation. Your performance in their class and how they observe you using your new found knowledge outside of the context in which it was gained in their class are the things that typically lead to a great recommendation. But there are steps that you can take that will ensure that when the teacher most capable of doing this task for you accepts your invitation to do this, they are equipped to do it efficiently and effectively. First, you should identify the teacher based on the academic area to which you will apply. For example, your accounting teacher is probably more appropriate than your music theory teacher to write a recommendation for you if you are applying to major in accounting. Second, when you ask the teacher, be prepared with a great “one minute elevator” speech. In other words, you have one minute to ask the teacher to write the recommendation but it must also be convincing and genuine. When you ask, it is important to explain why you have chosen them and what you would hope they would discuss in the recommendation. This helps to frame in their mind the context of the recommendation and their ability to achieve your request without putting too much burden on their workload. Remember, good and popular teachers tend to be asked a lot and at some point they have to start saying no. If you currently have them for a class it makes asking all the easier because they are currently familiar with your work. Third, be prepared to give the teacher a copy of the curriculum for your major from the school to which you will apply as well as any instructions for them to follow in preparing the letter. Some schools are seeking very specific information from teachers about their future students. Fourth, make a list of the attributes or accomplishments that you have achieved in high school and especially bring their attention to the ones which they have specific knowledge about your abilities. Fifth, it is always a good idea to give them an example of your work and especially well done assignments that you had completed for them. This will help to remind them about the quality of your work and other attributes that they have associated with you since they have gotten to know you. Sixth, provide them with a copy of your future career and intended major goals. They need to better understand where you see yourself going and how this school may be the right place to help you accomplish those goals. Next, remember to provide them with a stamped and addressed envelope if it is to be mailed to your school. Most importantly, remember to thank them for completing the letter and follow up with them about the final outcome of your applications. I am sure they would like to know how the end of your application story turns out.

Wendy Andreen, PhD

Help Your Teachers Write the Best Recs

#1 suggestion – build a rapport with your teachers during your JUNIOR year while doing your best in class! In most cases, it will be a teacher from your core classes during junior year who will write your rec letters. I meet with juniors early in the school year and remind them how important it is to not only do their best work in every class but get to know their teachers. Colleges don’t want teachers to regurgitate what can be found on a student’s resume or activities section of the application. Colleges want to know things like the student has critical thinking skills in the subject, can handle rigorous course work, participates in class, offers insightful comments, demonstrates honesty and ethical behavior, is punctual and prepared for class, works well with classmates, as well as provides leadership characteristics. You may not be perfect in all of these categories but you can demonstrate your strengths in class daily. Your teacher will be able to write about those strengths with specific examples. #2 suggestion – at the end of your junior year (before you leave for the summer), if you know which teachers you would like to write your letters, make a personal visit to their classroom and ask them if they will write a letter on your behalf when you return to school in the fall (or end of summer). Tell them you will bring them all the information they need at that time. Once they agree, you will be a step ahead when you return to school as a senior. #3 suggestion – follow your high school’s requirements for getting information to your teachers. If there is no process in place, provide a pocket folder for each teacher that includes a copy of your resume (as a courtesy – remember they are writing about your strengths in the classroom) which contains your full name and contact information, a page with your list of colleges, their deadline dates, any ID# the teacher needs for each school to include in the letter (such as birth date), stamped, addressed envelopes for each college or the email information for online recs. Include on the page any other helpful information (like your intended major) so your teacher can write the best possible letter for you.

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

Prime Time

With lives of teachers and students becoming increasingly busy, it is critical to plan. Failure to plan could jeopardize a needed letter of recommendation. To avoid any surprises, create a calendar noting when your letters of recommendation are due, typically two to three weeks before the application deadlines. Teachers have busy lives and the fall semester often brings extra responsibilities, therefore ask teachers early and include your deadline in your requests. If the teachers are not using an electronic format, providing an envelope addressed to the admission office will assist in expediting the process.

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

Prime Time

With lives of teachers and students becoming increasingly busy, it is critical to plan. Failure to plan could jeopardize a needed letter of recommendation. To avoid any surprises, create a calendar noting when your letters of recommendation are due, typically two to three weeks before the application deadlines. Teachers have busy lives and the fall semester often brings extra responsibilities, therefore ask teachers early and include your deadline in your requests. If the teachers are not using an electronic format, providing an envelope addressed to the admission office will assist in expediting the process.

William Chichester

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Give teachers at least six-12 months of time to get this turned around because most teachers will have all of their students reaching out to them. Good students that get good recommendations are mindful of the teacher’s/recommender’s schedule. Giving a recommender tight turnaround times can diminish quality.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

The best way to plan ahead with regards to letters of recommendation is to be an active and engaged student in class. Pay attention, ask thoughtful questions, and be a considerate student and classmate to your teacher and peers. If you are particularly interested in a specific topic — ask your teacher for further resources. You don’t need to “kiss up” to the teacher or pretend to have an intellectual interest. However, if you are genuinely interested in something — try to pursue it — regardless of any “extra credit” involved. Being an active participant in your learning process (rather than being a whiny grade grubber) is a great way to show your maturity and character in the classroom. By doing this, you will not only learn for enjoyment — but you might also receive a great teacher evaluation!

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

Ask early and politely

Teachers are not required to write you letters of recommendation, so do understand that they would be doing you a favor. The most popular teachers can get overwhelmed with requests, and begin to say no. So, the best plan is to confirm with your teachers that they would be willing to write you a letter by the end of junior year. In general, English teachers and History teachers are often the best writers, You might want to hand them a copy of your resume, to help them have some context for their letter. And a short Thank-you note would be much appreciated by them.

Lisa HatchIndependent College CounselorCollege Primers

Planning Ahead – (And Asking Early!) Can Give You an Edge

Asking your favorite teachers for college admissions recommendations may not head the top of your back-to-school “to do” list, but perhaps you’re not giving this task enough respect. Admissions officials want to hear from people they trust (your high school teachers) about why they should choose YOU as opposed to the thousands of other applicants they’ve heard from. And if you wait until October to ask your teachers to help you out, they may not have time to give college a comprehensive look at your overall greatness. To keep your admissions portfolio from presenting the same old boilerplate recommendation letters that college admissions officials have seen a dozen times before (yes – they notice things like that!), seek out your teachers before they become inundated with requests from four hundred of your peers. Hitting teachers up for recommendations early on in the school year not only gives them ample time to create a personalized, thoughtful letter but also improves their opinion of you for not adding to the mass of requests they’ll receive simultaneously in November as a result of your less-prepared classmates’ procrastination.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

How Planning Can Help with Getting Better Teacher Recommendations

I am taking “planning” to mean that you have your act together and are doing the things that need to be done when they need to be done. That would mean that you’ve done your research ahead of time and can ask for the teacher recommendations in plenty of time for the teachers involved to have an opportunity to formulate effective recommendations. This should not be an overnight rush job! Another aspect of the planning would be having a fully-developed, carefully-organized resume of your school involvement, extracurricular activities, volunteer activities, internships, work experience, and so on, which you can give to the teachers whom you have asked for recommendations. They may or may not choose to refer to any of the information on your resume within their recommendations, but it could be that some of the things mentioned on the resume tie in directly with the subject they teach or how they have perceived you as a student in their class.

Annie ReznikCounselor/CEOCollege Guidance Coach

5 Tips For Getting Great Letters of Recommendation

Select teachers who know you best You may have received an “A” in AP US History, but if you rarely interacted with the teacher, this may not be your best bet for a recommendation. Rather than focusing on the teacher who gave you your best grade, identify a teacher who took the time to know you personally. Ask for recommendations in person Don’t email or text your request. Visit the teacher or counselor during the school day and ask personally for a letter of recommendation. Be prepared to provide the recommender with important information about where to send the letter and the deadline. Plant the seed of your request early If you had a great year in AP US History, ask your teacher to write a letter of recommendation before you leave for summer vacation. You can solidify your request in the fall, but your teacher may use the summer break to work on these types of requests. Arm your recommender with information Let the teacher or counselor know everything you were involved in throughout your high school career. Make sure you include activities outside of school, including church activities, jobs, volunteer work – all of these help show who you are and help the recommender get a better sense of what to write. Also, tell your teacher and counselor about the colleges you are applying to. Share your reasons for selecting these schools, and let the recommender know your plans for college and the future. Say “Thank you!” Send a thank you note to each of your recommenders. A handwritten, personal note of thanks is courteous and demonstrates your good, professional manners.

Erica WhiteCollege & Career CounselorMiddletown High School

Popular teachers

We all can name the top 10 popular teachers in high school. Those teachers are the most likely to get asked to write recommendations. Therefore, if you do not ask in advance you will be put on a waiting list with everyone else who asked. Teachers typically write recommendations in the order in which they are asked. You may also lose out an oppurtunity to get a great recommendation, if the teacher only writes a certain amount of recommendations per year. By planning ahead you also give the teacher plenty of time to write the best recommendation possible. If you rush the teacher to write a recommendation it is not going to be as good as it could have been. I always suggest you ask in May of your junior year to give the teacher plenty of time to write a great recommendation.

Rana SlosbergOwnerSlosberg College Solutions LLC

Plan ahead

If you plan ahead, you can give recommendation letter writers adequate time and information (e.g., why you selected them, highlights of your experience with them, a resume, a transcript, colleges you are applying to, due dates for recommendation letters, and hard copy forms with stamped addressed envelopes, if needed) to complete a great, on-time the teacher recommendation.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Generally, it is the junior year teachers that a student will ask to write the letters of recommendation. It is a good idea to have one letter that is from a math or science teacher and one letter that is from an English, or history, or language teacher. You do not want to be a “grade grubber,” but it is important to show that you care about learning (not just the grade), ask good questions, be a positive, productive member of the class. Get your work done well and on time, be pleasant, have a sense of humor. All these attributes can lead to positive letters.

Natalie Sanchez CamposOwnerNext Step LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Plan early and plan well by asking five different people for recommendations. Supply each individual with you academic resume and transcript so that they can make informed and accurate statements in the recommendation Ensure that each individual you ask to share a recommendation has enough time (typically 4-6 weeks) to complete the recommendation and to submit it appropriately.

Natalie Sanchez CamposOwnerNext Step LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

I recommend you plan 4-6 weeks in advance and asking five different people for recommendations. Supply each individual with you academic resume and transcript so that they can make informed and accurate statements in the recommendation Ensure that each individual you ask to share a recommendation has enough time (typically 4-6 weeks) to complete the recommendation and to submit it appropriately.

Suzanne ShafferOwnerParents Countdown to College Coach

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

If a student begins to cultivate relationships when they enter high school, they will be able to get great teacher recommendations during the college application process. Cultivating those relationships is key because if the teachers know you, they can write a more personal, detailed recommendation for you. Don’t wait until the fall of senior year when teachers are swamped with recommendation requests. As them the beginning of the summer so they have time to think about it and write a better letter.

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

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

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 people 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, they may 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.

Andrew BelascoCEOCollege Transitions LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

To ensure a great letter of recommendation, it is important that students establish a relationship with their teacher at the outset of class, seeking opportunities to discuss their academic progress/interests, acquire help with a particular assignment or ask “follow-up” questions related to a class topic or activity–all the while being respectful of the teacher’s time and other personal and professional obligations. Many teachers value enthusiasm as much as talent. It is also important to note that the best letters of recommendation are not necessarily reserved for the highest-achieving students. Letters of recommendation attesting to a student’s work-ethic and/or resilience can often prove more effective than a letter of recommendation describing a student’s great performance. Therefore, as long as the student is exhibiting conscientiousness and significant effort, he/she should not be afraid to seek the support of a teacher in an enjoyable yet particularly challenging course.

Dawn Smith

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Choose teachers who know you well and like you! Pick teachers who have taught you either junior or senior years.  English teachers tend to write well, so they are usually a good bet.  An academic teacher who has also known you outside the classroom (through clubs or sports teams) is generally an excellent choice.  Ask a teacher who respects you and can testify to some of your intangible qualities, i.e. intellectual curiosity, academic passion.  The best teacher to ask is not necessarily the one who gave you the highest grade. Sometimes, picking a teacher in a class where you have struggled and persevered, might be an excellent option.

Robin Smith

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Definitely ask your teachers if they can accommodate you as soon as possible. Do not delay! If they are already overwhelmed with requests for recommendations from other students, they may turn you down.

Plus, carefully prepare, in advance, a packet of all materials that they will need to write a detailed and complete evaluation. You should include a resume that provides detailed information about your activities, jobs, and academic achievements, evaluation forms on which you completed the waiver and basic information sections in advance, addressed and stamped mailing envelopes (plus a little note on the bottom-left corner of the envelope that displays the application deadlines (unless your school will be submitting all their forms online), plus a thank-you note, considering the time and extra effort that you are asking them to make on your behalf.

After a few weeks time, come up with a tactful way to ask your teacher if they have finished your evaluations in time for the deadline!

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

provide your teacher a list of comments about yourself, ask the rigth teachers to write the recommendations. do not wait until the last min.

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Getting great teacher recommendations is hugely important . . . and getting them is in your hands as a responsible and enthusiastic student. Professors are impressed with students who are on top of their assignments and curious about the material presented in class. When a professor schedules a paper, map out a proposal or draft for how you’d address the topic and see him or her after class or during office hours. Chances are that your professor will be only too happy to help. With the professor’s comments as a guide, there won’t be any surprises (except a good grade) when you get the paper back. If you have some unique insight or perspective on a topic, see the professor. Perhaps you will eventually gain a role as a member of a research team sponsored by the particular professor. The great recommendation should be an outgrowth of that involvement and attitude.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Start early. You don’t want your letter to be the last letter your teacher writes. I would like to be able to tell you that it didn’t matter when your teacher writes your letter, but we all get tired of writing. After you have written a hundred letters, you feel a little overwhelmed and worn down. Get your teachers early. Plant the seed in their mind before you leave for summer break at the end of your Junior Year. Give them a friendly reminder when you get back in the fall of your Senior Year.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

High school teachers are asked to write many recommendations every school year. Most requests come from seniors in the fall, when the school year and admissions season are already in full swing. Teachers are busy teaching classes, they’ve got papers to grade as well as piles of recommendation letters to write. This is not a good scenario for the creation of a stellar recommendation letter. If you want to get a great letter, ask your teachers in the spring of junior year if they’d be willing to write a letter supporting your application. If they agree, provide them with a resume, brag sheet, and a few “memory joggers” describing projects you’ve done or papers you’ve written in their classes. If you have actual hard copies of class work you can copy and give them, so much the better. Let them know which schools you’ll be applying to, and why each is on your list. Let them know that you’ll be contacting them over the summer with more specific instructions about submitting their letters (typically, you’ll send them a link from the Common Application that enables them to upload their recommendation). Be sure to get the email addresses where you can reach them over the summer. Be thankful and appreciative. Be available to answer any questions they might have while writing. When they’ve sent in your letters, always follow up with a thank you note. The really do mean a lot to teachers.

Megan DorseySAT Prep & College AdvisorCollege Prep LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

First, planning will allow you to make your request early and avoid the rush of last minute requests made weeks before the deadline. When teachers and counselors have time to think, write, and revise, they produce higher quality letters. Next, planning allows you to secure your first choice teachers. I’ve known plenty of teachers who have to turn students away because that teacher is overwhelmed with requests and wouldn’t be able to write another quality letter in time. Finally, with some strategic planning you will not only choose the right people, you will be able to tell them why their letter is important to your overall application and what you hoped they could discuss.

Patricia AviezerPresidentInside Track To College, Inc.

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Recommendation writers take your request seriously and deserve the time they need to complete your request with the professionalism they strive to pursue. It also takes time to get to know you as a student performer within their classroom and as a person. Colleges look for specific anecdotes with highlights of how you performed in their classrooms. They feel this represents how you will contribute on their campuses. You also need to keep in mind what major you might be declaring or how the rest of your application leans to a particular subject area, then choose to ask the teacher who is representative of that subject matter. This all takes planning, so get started today!

Patricia AviezerPresidentInside Track To College, Inc.

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Recommendation writers take your request seriously and deserve the time they need to complete your request with the professionalism they strive to pursue. It also takes time to get to know you as a student performer within their classroom and as a person. Colleges look for specific anecdotes with highlights of how you performed in their classrooms. They feel this represents how you will contribute on their campuses. You also need to keep in mind what major you might be declaring or how the rest of your application leans to a particular subject area, then choose to ask the teacher who is representative of that subject matter. This all takes planning, so get started today!

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

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

The more time (and information) you can give teachers, the better your letter of recommendation is going to be. Teachers could have up to 150 students; don’t just think they know you or have the time to write one “little, old” letter of recommendation for you. Give them plenty of notice, include a thank you in your request, and give them a reminder a few weeks before your letter is due. Along with you request, give them information in a summary sheet and/or resume of things to write about. Let them know your common application/electronic request is coming in their email or give them self-addressed, stamped envelopes to where you need the letters sent. The more you can help the teacher be organized, the better your results will be.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

By asking for the recommendation well in advance and providing a written summary of the request you are showing respect for their time. Most teachers do not receive additional compensation for writing letters of recommendation which can be quite time consuming and so make it easy for them by giving them adequate time to write you a great letter of recommendation.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Putting together a package for teachers that includes your resume and a letter that indicates what your goals are, challenges have been, and how you have pursued them and persevered through adversity will help teachers understand what you want and how they can best help you. Giving teachers this package at the end of junior year will give teacher the most time to write a great letter without pressure. Also, the college application in not the first time a teacher should be writing for you. Apply for something earlier that requires a letter. If the teacher is proud of the letter and has written glowingly, they will often want to share their letter with you. A little early reconnaissance can be very informative and helpful.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Putting together a package for teachers that includes your resume and a letter that indicates what your goals are, challenges have been, and how you have pursued them and persevered through adversity will help teachers understand what you want and how they can best help you. Giving teachers this package at the end of junior year will give teacher the most time to write a great letter without pressure.

Reena Gold KaminsFounderCollege, Career & Life, LLC.

The more respectful you are of your teacher’s time, the better the letter she’ll write.

Dropping a recommendation form in a teacher’s mailbox with a post-it note and the due date, doesn’t show a lot of respect for her time. So, chances are that teacher won’t put a lot of effort into the letter. I encourage students to schedule a meeting to ask for a recommendation letter. Take the time to show your teacher your list of schools (so they know how many they have to write) and explain to them why you’re interested in each school. Talking to them about your list might reveal information that could help you. Perhaps your teacher attended one of the schools on your list. If she’s familiar with the college’s curriculum, her evaluation of your ability to succeed within it, is more meaningful. Similiarly, if she knows other students who’ve attended and done well at particular college and can discuss your abilities relative to that student, it is more meaningful. These conversations can’t be had if you wait till the last minute. Ideally, you will give your teacher at least 4 weeks to write the letter. If you want to meet with her first, you need to allow five weeks.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Teacher Recommendations Reflect Your Approach to Learning

The kind of planning that enhances recommendations is the same kind that enhances a student’s overall academic profile. Anything that will help you perform at a high level and do it in a way that demonstrates more than a concern about high grades should be a part of your effort. The best recommendations attest to a student’s love of learning and of the positive impact they have on the classroom atmosphere and the learning experience of all. Students should establish relationships with teachers so that they can get to know you and can see this. That approach is also likely to lead to better grades. If you start off from day one in that way you are not only going to be able to have your pick of strong recommendations but the strong grades that will complement them.

Mollie ReznickAssociate DirectorThe College Connection

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Quite simply, the sooner you ask a teacher, the better chances you have at getting a great recommendation. Firstly, every student needs recommendations and often certain teachers who are very popular can get bogged down with these requests. If you ask at the very beginning of your senior year, you have better odds of getting your desired teacher to write a recommendation for you. Also, asking early on gives the teacher plenty of time to think about and write the letter, which will likely lead to a more thoughtful product.

Francine SchwartzFounder/ PresidentPathfinder Counseling LLC

Ways to get a get teacher recommendation.

Decide early junior year who you would like to ask for a recommendation. Choose teachers who know you and your achievements well and where you were an active participant who contributed to the class. Next provide the teacher with a resume and a sample of your work so that they will have material to write about. Ask your teacher by the end of junior year if they would be willing to write a recommendation. Early senior year before the crush of other students, ask your teacher to write the letter. Be sure to provide them information about the school, where to send the letter and other necessary information. Always follow up with a nice thank you note or email. Francine Schwartz M.A., LPC, NCC Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Francine SchwartzFounder/ PresidentPathfinder Counseling LLC

Ways to get a get teacher recommendation.

Decide early junior year who you would like to ask for a recommendation. Choose teachers who know you and your achievements well and where you were an active participant who contributed to the class. Next provide the teacher with a resume and a sample of your work so that they will have material to write about. Ask your teacher by the end of junior year if they would be willing to write a recommendation. Early senior year before the crush of other students, ask your teacher to write the letter. Be sure to provide them information about the school, where to send the letter and other necessary information. Always follow up with a nice thank you note or email.

Trevor CreedenDirector of College and Career CounselingDelaware County Christian School

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

It helps to plan for everything but for letters of recommendation, it can really benefit you because you can get a good idea of what the college you are applying to wants to see in a letter of recommedation. Asking around a bit to see what they like to see in a letter is helpful. Planning also lets teachers have more time to complete the letter which in turn will result in a more thorough and thought out letter that is more unique to you. Colleges want teachers to point out how you stick out from the others in their class and if you know this your freshman year, you can remind yourself throughout the time you are in a certain teachers class to do things that stick out and go above and beyond.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning can increase the chances of receiving an exceptional letter of recommendation, one truly influential in the application process. By carefully planning, students can consider who would be most appropriate in writing letters of recommendation. Students shouldn’t simply select teachers who awarded them their highest grades. Rather, students should examine which teachers they have worked most closely with through the course of their high school careers. While some teachers think highly of the student, they may not always be able to effectively express this regard in writing. This should be another factor to consider when deciding which teachers to ask. Planning should also allow teachers more time to write a powerful letter of recommendation, as they are able to reflect upon the student’s pursuits and subsequent achievements. If a student plans early enough, they should also consider any relationship or experiences teachers have had with the colleges or universities to which they are applying. Perhaps a teacher is an alumnus or used to work as a faculty member for the college. There are many other factors to consider.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning can increase the chances of receiving an exceptional letter of recommendation, one truly influential in the application process. By carefully planning, students can consider who would be most appropriate in writing letters of recommendation. Students shouldn’t simply select teachers who awarded them their highest grades. Rather, students should examine which teachers they have worked most closely with through the course of their high school careers. While some teachers think highly of the student, they may not always be able to effectively express this regard in writing. This should be another factor to consider when deciding which teachers to ask. Planning should also allow teachers more time to write a powerful letter of recommendation, as they are able to reflect upon the student’s pursuits and subsequent achievements. If a student plans early enough, they should also consider any relationship or experiences teachers have had with the colleges or universities to which they are applying. Perhaps a teacher is an alumnus or used to work as a faculty member for the college. There are many other factors to consider.

Michelle AronoffGuidance Counselor

Stand out as a student.

Getting a great teacher recommendation is not as much about your grade in their class (although it is a factor) as it is how well that teacher got to know you as a student. If you did great in their class but never spoke with the teacher individually or participated in class discussions, they may not have much to write about except that you were prepared and did your assignments. You want them to get to know you so they fill the page with all of your great qualities!

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

Planning for Teacher Recommendations

It increases the chances a great deal, because the teacher is not rushed and they have a full picture of the student not just the 1 dimension they see in their class. A resume and a list of activities with roles and responsibilities and proudest accomplishments provided early to teachers who have agreed to write the recommendations will yield better letters. If you assume that your letter is the only one or if you forgot that you were rude while you were in that teachers class and burned a bridge your letters may not be so glowing. Prepare Early and Don’t Burn Bridges

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

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

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.

Charlotte KlaarDirectorKlaar College Consulting LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

It is important that the teacher who is asked to give you a letter of recommendation is one with whom you have a good rapport. It is not necessarily the teacher who gave you the highest grade. Sometimes, it is the teacher in whose class you struggled but who recognized how hard you worked who will be able to give you the best recommendation. In order to make sure that the letter is warm and genuine, take some time to sit down and talk to the teacher about what you do outside of class and outside of school. As a courtesy, make an appointment with the teacher and bring to that appointment your activities list and discuss with him or her what elements of your character and academic passion you would like to have showcased in the letter. Since you will be asking for two letters from different teachers, have each of them showcase a different aspect of you as a learner. Tell each of them who the other writer will be so that they can, perhaps, ensure that there is no duplication in their letters.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Having a prepared resume that you can provide a teacher with can ease the process for stressed out and overburdened teachers yielding a better letter of reference. Include relevant information that can help them write an informed letter.

Randi HeathmanIndependent Educational ConsultantThe Equestrian College Advisor LLC

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

For great teacher recommendations, students need to engage in two types of planning: the first is planning AHEAD. The most popular teachers are normally bombarded with requests for letters from college-bound seniors on the first day of school each fall and, while they’ll probably say yes to as many students as they can, when they’re writing so many letters in such a short period of time, the quality of the writing and the specific information that they’re able to recall and share (the very same information that will give admission officers a great picture of how students will fit into their university!) will be limited. The second type of planning is planning WHO will be asked. I always tell students to be aware of what, specifically, a teacher is most likely to say about them, e.g. that you had a remarkable breakthrough in their math class as a sophomore and it changed your outlook on the subject or that you are always the first to raise your hand and ask a really in-depth question in your history class. You never want to ask a teacher to write about you when there’s even the most remote possiblity that he or she would have anything negative to say because you won’t get a chance for rebuttal with the admission office – and, in fact, you probably won’t ever get to see the letter to know what was said in the first place!

Michelle BrownLicensed Counselor/Social Empowerment EducatorOaklandUniv./BreatheAgainCounseling

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning takes time and patience. First you want to begin talking to potential teachers about your goal of attending college. Even if you feel unsure, don’t let this sway you from your decision to attend college. Keep a journal of your journey and keep track of teachers whom you are interested in providing a great letter of recommendation. Step in and say hello after you have taken their classes as teachers have many students and may forget that they had you in class. If your teacher has a blog, subscribe to it. If he or she participates in extra-curricular activities, see how you can volunteer to support the teacher. And lastly, make sure that you are a studious student paying attention to detail and doing the best you can in class. Participate and be active! All of the above can begin while in the 10th grade, but certainly by the 11th so that when you graduate, your teachers will have a lasting positive impression of you (the great student) whom they will gladly write a recommendation letter. Good luck! Keep a positive attitude!!!

Michelle BrownLicensed Counselor/Social Empowerment EducatorOaklandUniv./BreatheAgainCounseling

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning takes time and patience. First you want to begin talking to potential teachers about your goal of attending college. Even if you feel unsure, don’t let this sway you from your decision to attend college. Keep a journal of your journey and keep track of teachers whom you are interested in providing a great letter of recommendation. Step in and say hello after you have taken their classes as teachers have many students and may forget that they had you in class. If your teacher has a blog, subscribe to it. If he or she participates in extra-curricular activities, see how you can volunteer to support the teacher. And lastly, make sure that you are a studious student paying attention to detail and doing the best you can in class. Participate and be active! All of the above can begin while in the 10th grade, but certainly by the 11th so that when you graduate, your teachers will have a lasting positive impression of you (the great student) whom they will gladly write a recommendation letter. Good luck! Keep a positive attitude!!!

Steven CrispOwner Crisp College Advising

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

One way that planning can increase the quality of a teacher recommendation is that you give your teachers plenty of time to write. If this a good teacher then you are definitely not the only one who is asking them for a recommendation, so they will have several to complete. Giving them time, a couple of weeks would be best, allows them to write a quality recommendation. Letting them know with a few days to spare probably means it won’t be as good as it could have been.

Janet Elfers

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Teachers often live by the philosophy that your procrastination should not be their problem. If you plan ahead, teachers will respect and appreciate you and will be more thoughtful about their recommendations. Plan ahead by knowing exactly how many colleges you’ll be using the teacher recommendation for, by knowing exactly how many recommendations you need, by providing all the information and materials teachers need to complete the task, and by allowing plenty of time for the writing and processing. In my school, we suggested giving teachers two full work weeks’ notice. And don’t forget those thank you notes!

Scott Herrmann-KeelingCollege Counselor

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning ahead can make a difference to a student when seeking a teacher recommendation. It makes sense that teachers can write better letters for students they know well so the best plan is to get to know your teachers. How can you do this? The possibilities are many: • If you have a grasp of the material being taught, speak up in class. Answer questions posed by your teacher and/or your classmates. Volunteering your knowledge allows a teacher to see you’re really getting it and, in addition to helping your classmates, you will learn more as well by the way people respond to your comments. • If you’re having trouble understanding something, ask questions. If you’re not comfortable asking them in class, approach your teacher outside of class. Most teachers want to help you but they can’t if they don’t know you need help. Some of the best letters of recommendation come from teachers of students who may not have received a strong grade in a class but who worked hard, sought help, and never gave up. • If you have an interest in a club or activity that a teacher of yours is a part of, get involved. This allows you to have an outlet for your talent and also allows your teacher to see you in a different way. The best letters of recommendation include information about your scholarship, classroom behavior, ability and willingness to seek help, and information about what kind of person you are in other contexts as well. The more ways a teacher has to see who you are, the better the letter he or she will write for you. If you’re really planning ahead to the best of your ability, you should identify teachers you get along with and who you may want to ask to write a letter for you by the mid-point of your junior year. If you haven’t already been doing so, follow the above steps to begin to cultivate the relationship. Be genuine about it, your primary goal is to understand the material and help your class become a stronger, more cohesive learning environment. Once you feel you’ve established a solid relationship with that teacher, ask if he or she would be willing to write on your behalf. Doing this with at least a month left in your junior year will give your teacher plenty of time to really observe you in the classroom setting and, if necessary, gather more information for the letter. It will also give the teacher the option to write the letter on his or her own pace, before the school year ends, over the summer, or in the fall, whichever best suits.

Richard NaporaCollege ConsultantClarus

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Many teachers will take only a specific number of student requests for letters…so planning to get a request in a timely fashion will improve the odds of having the more popular teachers say “yes.” Keep in mind that teachers generally get asked to write letters by dozens of students at competitive high schools, and these teachers remember students who ask early and who know exactly how many letters are required (and from whom). The best time to ask is AFTER a student researches and finds out exactly what he or she needs…typically private colleges require from 1-3 teacher recs, from teachers who taught the student junior or senior year. Students also generally need a letter of rec. from the counselor as well (the “Secondary Report”).So ask your counselor early as well!

Mary Mariani

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

I have always asked students to do the following when they need a letter: 1) Give me two weeks 2) Write out some important facts about yourself that I can’t find on your transcript 3) Why do you think you will be a good candidate for this particular school? 4) Tell me something that you have accomplished that shows hard work, determination and the ability to overcome frustration. 5)Tell me about your future goals and what have you already accomplished. 6) How do you handle frustration and problems. I believe it is important to give the person who is writing your letter more than enough information about you then he/she would need. Also make sure that the information talks about you as a “learner” – more than just gpa, list of classes, etc. That type of information is already on your transcript. I want students to let me know why they would stand out and why they would be successful on the college campus.

Amberley WolfCollege ConsultantWolf College Consulting

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning and preparation can be extremely helpful in getting a strong teacher recommendation. Here are some tips that I give my students: 1) Ask your teachers before the middle of September if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation 2) Hand them a complete resume and a copy of your transcript before they write the letter of recommendation 3) If they have to mail the recommendation, give them the envelope with the address and postage already on the envelope 4) Choose your teacher wisely. Pick a teacher from a class that you have done well in (or improved greatly in). Pick a teacher that knows you well. And if possible pick a teacher that is in the area of what you want to study. For instance if you want to be a Creative Writing Major, pick an English teacher to write your recommendation. 5) Ask if you could have 10-15 minutes with them before they write the letter of recommendation for you to share your educational goals.

Keith BermanPresidentOptions for College, Inc.

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning can increase a student’s chance of getting a great teacher recommendation directly. The teachers evaluate you on Respect accorded by faculty, Disciplined work habits, Maturity, Motivation, Leadership, Integrity, Concern for others, Self-confidence and Initiative/independence — someone who plans where they are applying, does things in a timely fashion and communicates them with the recommending teacher will get higher marks in all these categories. Always meet your recommending teachers halfway. They are doing you a huge favor writing the recommendations!

Richard NaporaCollege ConsultantClarus

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Students need to know not only if they will need a letter of recommendation (many public colleges do not require or accept them) but also how many and from whom (many if not most private colleges require them). Planning and preparing will answer these questions, and reduce stress while putting students in the best possible position to gain strong letters of recommendation. Many teachers will accept only a specific number of student requests for letters…so planning to get a request in a timely fashion will improve the odds of having the more popular teachers say “yes.” Keep in mind that certain teachers in certain subjects (especially at highly competitive high schools) get asked to write dozens of letters, and these teachers remember students who not only ask early but also know exactly how many letters are required (and from whom). Students also generally need a letter of rec. from a counselor as well (the “Secondary Report”), so they need to ask their counselor early as well! In addition to asking early, students should plan to prepare a “brag packet,” which exists at many high schools in the form of a series of questions students respond to. After they fill it out, students provide the finished packet to each person writing a letter of recommendation. By gaining this additional information, the writers are able to gain a more comprehensive picture of a student and to then write a more in-depth letter.

Richard NaporaCollege ConsultantClarus

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Many teachers will take only a specific number of student requests for letters…so planning to get a request in a timely fashion will improve the odds of having the more popular teachers say “yes.” Keep in mind that teachers generally get asked by dozens of students at competitive high schools, and teachers remember students who ask early and know exactly how many letters are required (and from whom). The best time to ask is AFTER a student researches and finds out exactly what he or she needs…typically private colleges require from 1-3 teacher recs, from teachers who taught the student junior or senior year. Students also generally need a letter of rec. from the counselor as well (the “Secondary Report”).

Doris KleinPresidentChoice College Consulting

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning ahead can maximize your chances of getting the best possible letters of recommendation. Keep an on-going “brag sheet’” for yourself throughout high school, to remind yourself of your accomplishments. Check with your guidance office, or the actual college you are applying to, to determine where and how the letters are submitted. Carefully consider which teacher to ask. You want a teacher who knows you, and who has a high opinion of you and your work. Make an attempt to get to know the teacher before you make the request. Participate in class discussions, and put extra effort into assignments and projects. Make your request early. It is important to remember that teachers are busy people who have lives outside of school, and will probably have to budget their time in order to write an insightful and meaningful letter that will help your chances of being accepted into the school you desire. You do not want to be one of many that a teacher has to finish within a week. Make the request in person. If the teacher has office hours, schedule an appointment. Ask the teacher if he wants to discuss anything with you prior to doing the letter. If he does, be honest in your discussion. You might want to bring in some facts from your brag sheet at this point. Tell the teacher how the letter is to be submitted, and by what date. And be sure to thank him! If a teacher does not feel that she can give you a good recommendation, thank her for her honesty, and request one of another teacher.

Keith BermanPresidentOptions for College, Inc.

How can planning increase a student’s chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

Planning can increase a student’s chance of getting a great teacher recommendation directly. The teachers evaluate you on Respect accorded by faculty, Disciplined work habits, Maturity, Motivation, Leadership, Integrity, Concern for others, Self-confidence and Initiative/independence — someone who plans where they are applying, does things in a timely fashion and communicates them with the recommending teacher will get higher marks in all these categories. Always meet your recommending teachers halfway. They are doing you a huge favor writing the recommendations!

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