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Recommendations and those hiding in plain sight!

How does one go about getting the best recommendations for their college application? Which teachers do you ask? There is also someone who is not a teacher who will be required to write a recommendation without you asking- your guidance counselor. More about that later.

Timing can be important. When you do ask for a recommendation? Ask early. I have known of some teachers who have a limited number of recommendations they will write no matter how wonderful you are. Don’t wait until fall of your senior year when everyone else is asking and teachers feel stressed. It is best to ask your core subject junior or senior year teachers. When you ask, say something like, “Would you be able to write me a strong recommendation?” You need to know that the recommendation will be a positive addition to your application. Since there are many large high schools where it’s hard for teachers to get to know their students, help them remember the details of how you did in their class. When providing this information, explain that you hope this would be helpful since you realize they have many students

Guidance counselors at large schools will not know their students well either. So, make it a point to also get to know them better, which will make for a stronger recommendation, by visiting them more often. Also, provide a resumé so they can use it in writing your recommendation. As you would do when asking for anything -be nice and grateful. When you share your resumé, say something like, (which is true!), “I know how busy you are and what a large number of students you represent, so I thought this may be helpful when you write a recommendation. I appreciate your help. Thank you!”

Some possibilities for strong recommendations are not as obvious. Sure, the first thing you may ask yourself when choosing a teacher to write a letter for you is usually, “What class did I do the best in? “What class did I get an ‘A’ in?” But, step outside that narrow box and look elsewhere. How about a class that you struggled in but did all the extra credit work, went every day to stay for study sessions, sought out the teacher after class for help, etc? This teacher could attest to your character, hard work, and perseverance-qualities that are nothing to sneeze at when colleges are looking to create their freshman class. Go for it!


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