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?

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.

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!

Michelle Brown
Licensed Counselor/Social Empowerment Educator OaklandUniv./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!!!

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The 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.

Charlotte Klaar
Director Klaar 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.

Ryan Aldrich
Director of College Counseling The 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.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless 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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton 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.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational 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.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora 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.