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?

Mollie Reznick
Associate Director The 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.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft 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.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder 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

Jeana Robbins

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 Aronoff
Guidance 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!

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware 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.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar 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

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener 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.

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

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside 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!