Academic Letters of Recommendation
For academic applications, letters from teachers are generally preferable to letters from employers. Admission officers are looking to supplement their knowledge of your academic performance and aptitude — gleaned from your transcript and standardized scores — with concrete evidence that you are a dedicated and enthusiastic learner that will enhance the college culture.
When you seek letters of recommendation, remember that you are asking for a favor. Make the process as convenient as possible for your letter writer by providing context, direction, and even stamps!
Tips on Asking for Letters of Recommendation
If you've built solid relationships with teachers and counselors who know you well, it will pay off when it's time to seek letters of recommendation. It's much easier for a letter writer to paint a vivid picture of your potential when they know your strengths and talents well. Here are a few recommendation tips for students:
- Start early: The last thing you want to do is rush the person who's doing you this favor. Believe it or not, the spring of junior year is not too soon to get the ball rolling when it comes to asking people to write college recommendations.
- Set up a meeting: You might not know exactly what to say. Do it anyway! If your teacher understands your aspirations, their letter will be that much more effective. A good letter provides specific insight that really highlights your individual potential.
- Do some writing yourself: Write down your goals and share them with your letter writer. This doesn't have to be an epic masterpiece, but it will be instructive for both you and your teacher.
An important thing to keep in mind is that certain people will be writing a lot of letters, especially popular teachers and coaches. Provide everything they'll need, including time, to get yours in by the deadline.