How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Joel Hart
Regional Director of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Tiffany Fujioka
Regional Director of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Lily Trayes
Founder and CEO Ivy League Placement

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Eric Furda
Dean of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Nancy Meislahn

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Here is my video response to the question.

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Ask the teachers who know you the best

Often students make the mistake of asking the teacher who gave them the highest grade for a recommendation letter. That teacher may not really know you very well, on a personal level, and be at a loss as to how to describe you and your best qualities. Sometimes, it is in the classes where you might have really struggled, but still achieved success that would make for a stronger recommendation letter. Especially if you have earned the teacher's respect for what you overcame. Also, if one of your teacher serves as an adviser to an extra-curricular activity that you have become seriously committed to- that teacher knows you now in a different light and could comment on additional skills and /or passions. Whomever you do decide to ask- please ensure that they actually do like you!

Michelle Green
Admissions Consultant My College Admissions Coach

Ask your teachers early...

if they are willing to write you a good recommendation. Choose your recommenders, wisely. Can they demonstrate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses? Send them a resume/brag sheet, whichever your high school college counselors have asked you to complete. Give them adequate time to do this - that means several weeks, if not months before your earliest recommendation is due. Some public colleges do require recommendations. Others do not. It's up to you to research the admissions offices requirements. Do they want one English/Social Studies and one Math/Science recommendation? Will your teachers submit these electronically or write a letter? Most colleges will ask you to waive your right to view the recommendations so that the teacher/counselor can write freely about you as a student. The best time to ask a recommender is before the end of junior year. The next best time to ask is when senior year begins and the teachers have lots of time to write nice recommendations for you. After they write these recs, don't forget to write them thank you letters. On thank you cards. Really. By hand. Not an email, not a quick "hey thanks" in person. They took the time to help you get into college, do the right thing and thank them personally. Trust me...their letters will take FAR longer to write than your thank you notes!

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Ask early and be polite.

The best teachers to write your letters of recommendation are teachers who have had you within the past year. Your best match is a teacher who taught a class that you earned a good grade in. If you like the teacher but earned a poor grade then the teacher can only recommend your personal attributes and you are missing out on the opportunity to be recommended for your academic and personal attributes. The best opportunity is when you can contact a teacher from your junior year over the summer before your senior year and ask the teacher to consider writing a letter of recommendation. This will allow the teacher time to think and to write. If your school has not already provided you with a brag sheet please provide on to your teacher. If you have some schools in mind please share your thoughts. Your teacher may believe that you are a great fit at some of the schools you are considering and that will support your application. Always provide a hand written thank you note after the application process is complete.