Recommendations for Recommendations

Student working with teacher college recommendationsMany colleges will require two or three recommendations from high school teachers, coaches, guidance counselors or others who know you in an academic, extracurricular or leadership capacity. Admissions officers rely on letters of recommendation to round out and confirm their picture of you as a candidate.

  • Choose Carefully: Cultivate good relationships with your guidance counselor, teachers, coaches, employers and others who can recommend you highly.

  • Ask Early: Approach potential letter-writers at least 5 to 8 weeks before the recommendation due-date, ideally four to six weeks prior to the end of 11th grade. Explain your college goals and ask if the person would be willing to write a positive recommendation for you. Many teachers and guidance counselors receive numerous requests, so ask early and give them plenty of time. ┬áIf the person agrees, plan to send a follow-up email thanking them in advance and letting them know that you’ll be following up with a resume and/or some information that may be helpful.

  • Brief Your Recommenders: Help those writing your recommendations by giving them a copy of your resume along with some “writing points”. These materials will help them compose a thoughtful and comprehensive recommendation.

  • Track the Deadlines: Be sure to follow-up. Teachers and counselors are extremely busy, especially toward the end of fall semester.

  • Thank You: Be sure to send a personalized thank you note and perhaps a small token of appreciation such as a Starbucks gift card.
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