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.