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?

Elisa Bennett
Director & Independent College Counselor Access 2 Admission

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Before asking a teacher to write you a recommendation letter, compile a resume or activities list outlining your accomplishments, academic goals, and extra curricular activities. Then, ask a teacher that can actually speak to who you are as a person. You want the teacher to address your character more than reiterate how bright you are (your grades already show them that :). Choose a teacher that doubles as your sponsor for the National Honor's Society and your British Lit. teacher. The recommender that knows more about who you are outside of the classroom should be able to provide a stronger letter than a teacher that only served as your AP Calculus AB Instructor. * Don't forget to kindly ask your teacher to write the letter, provide them the details and instructions about the school, program, or scholarship of which you are applying, and the resume you worked on earlier!

Ryan Aldrich
Director of College Counseling The White Mountain School

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Students need to be themselves and not tailor they behavior just to earn a better recommendation letter. Teachers will see through this subterfuge. Working hard in classes, participating, assisting others, being respectful, asking good questions, demonstrating passion outside of class in the subject area, are all ways to demonstrate to a teacher a student's engagement in a class and likely to be noticed.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Whether the recommendation is a teacher or administrator, your desired outcome is not just someone verifying your B+ or awesome A grade. Instead, your result should be a perspective that speaks to your intellectual curiosity, persistence towards excellence in whatever subject and how you did or didn't contribute in the classroom or school community. Never ask a teacher for a recommendation just because your secured a strong grade! Seek out someone who can attest to your ability, potential and personality. If you want the best feedback, I instruct the students I serve to provide a resume or goal statement summary. Only by providing information beyond what they instructor observed in the classroom setting does one empower that reference to speak to the whole of your academic and other efforts or goals. Don't stick the reference request or email in their inbox/email and fail to give then a reason to "rave" about your candidacy and future aims.

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

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

If you have great rapport w/that person & they are impressed with your accomplishments.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

The best way to get great teacher recommendations is to select teachers who know you well and will be able to give a candid evaluation of you (it helps if you've done well in their class!). Colleges generally want to see one recommendation from either a Math or Science teacher, and one from either an English or History teacher. Your recommending teachers should be those that you have had within the past 2 years as they will have had the most recent interactions with you and be able to accurately attest to your abilities.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Ideally, students should have one recommendation from a teacher in the humanities and one in math/science. Your recommenders should be teachers who know you and your work well, and who have taught you in the last two years (junior year teachers are best). When you've decided who you'd like to write your recommendations, ask those teachers in person if they are willing to compose a letter for you. Approach them in the spring of junior year, NOT in the fall of senior year (teachers often write better letters in the more relaxed summer months). Before you leave for vacation in June, give them a reminder that you'll be sending more information about the letter you need in a few weeks. Provide your teachers with a "brag sheet" or resume detailing you academic and extracurricular accomplishments, including any work experience. It's also helpful to write a brief paragraph about specific papers or projects you did in their class (this can help jog their memories as well as give them evidence to use in supporting their discussion of your academic abilities). Be sure you check any boxes and sign any agreements on your recommendation forms indicating that you waive your right to see the recommendation letters. It's fine if the teachers later want to show you the letters, but recommendations are only considered valuable information by colleges if you haven't seen them prior to their submission. If you are using the Common Application, send the invitation link to your teachers as soon as it becomes available. Check periodically to see if the letters have been uploaded; if not, it's fine to send a kind reminder. Once the letters are complete, send handwritten thank you notes to your teachers. Writing recommendation letters can be time consuming and challenging; most teachers are more than happy to write them, but it's always nice to show your gratitude.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Think carefully about whom you will ask. Ask the person who knows you and your work best not necessarily the class where you get the best grade, although the two are not always mutually exclusive. Prepare a summary of the points you would like covered in the recommendation and include some specific examples from class. Allow the teacher plenty of time to write it.and be sure to thank you teacher, preferable in writing.

Steph Hart
Owner, Principle Consultant Essential Elements: Comprehensive College Planning

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

First of all, establishing a solid relationship with teachers must begin freshman year. Be aware of your actions at all times (late to class, missing assignments, no participation) in the classroom and in the school hallways. You know what they say about teachers and their extra sets of eyes and ears! Typically, recommendations should be from a teacher from junior or senior year who teaches a core subject. Some schools are more specific, expecting one letter from a teacher in the sciences or math and one from a teacher for either English of history/social sciences. The general rule of thumb is that you can submit ONE extra letter from an additional adult (non-core teacher, mentor, coach, pastor, boss), but that is all. After three, the admission reviewer will often not read any more, as the idea of who you are has already been established in the first letters. Letters from faculty who know you well are critical. Note that the status of the writer is of no importance; what the letter says is what impacts admission decision. Think outside the box; a letter from a teacher in a subject that is easy for you is expected, but one from a teacher in a subject in which you struggle may better depict your work ethic and your desire to learn for more than a grade. And finally, letters of recommendation should correspond with and validate other aspects of the admission application, but not simply repeat what can be found elsewhere in your application. The more exact a teacher can be about a particular experience in their classroom or your work on a certain project, the better the letter.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Make a genuine effort to get to know teachers over the course of your high school career. Often being a member of a team or club that a teacher is involved with or taking two courses from the same teacher can help. If a subject is of particular interest, let teachers know and ask if they would be willing to recommend additional reading and talk with you about it. Ask them to supervise an independent research project. Participate in class, and encourage your peers with enthusiasm, but try not to dominate others or show off. Sometimes great letters come from teachers of classes that you struggled in. If you are struggling in a class, ask for help early and often and dedicate yourself to doing your best.

Julie Santamour

How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

Get to know your teachers, allowing them to get to know you. The better they know you the stronger the recommendation. Ideally you want to build relationships upon entering high school, so by time you need your recommendations you would have a number of teachers to choose from. Once relationships have been established and you are ready to make requests you should provide each teacher with a form/sheet filled out by you, about you. Include personal characteristics, strengths, favorite subjects, academic awards/honors, extracurriculars, volunteerism/community service, etc. Also be sure to include the purpose of the recommendation, whether it is a college or scholarship application with a few details about it. You could create a recommendation form using a simple outline format. Fill in one form with your personal information, and make copies for all recommendation prospects. Always allow 2 weeks (with reminders) for teachers to follow through on your request.