Securing a Great Letter of Recommendation

June 20, 2013
June 20, 2013 ACS

A few weeks ago, we wrote an article focusing on the importance of the letter of recommendation that you will most likely need when filling out your college application. As a follow-up to that article, here are some more meaningful tips for you to get the most out of that letter of recommendation.

Your main goal is to have your teacher, counselor, or coach write a strong letter of recommendation that will impress the admissions office. First, make sure you understand your school’s policies on letters of recommendation. Your school may use Naviance, which is a college admissions software program that manages the process. Or, your school may work directly with Common Application.

In addition, some colleges may be very specific and require you to have your math, science, or language arts teacher write the letter. It is also good to know that even though some colleges don’t require a letter of recommendation, you can still submit one.

Now, once you have decided which teacher or teachers you want to write your letter of recommendation, you will need to provide each teacher with some important information. The following, according to independent college adviser Lee Bierer, should be included in a folder for your recommender:

  • A resume or “brag” sheet that shows who you are outside of the teacher’s class. This may include any clubs you are in, a list of your community service hours or what you have been involved in with the community, any awards you have received, and anything else you think is important.
  • If you have your personal statement essay, provide a copy so the teacher writing your letter of recommendation can read what you have to say about yourself.
  • A brief paragraph on what you are specifically looking for in your college experience. You may want to include any possible majors you are interested in pursuing, any specific interests you have, and the type of colleges that you believe represent a good fit for you.
  • Your college list with each college’s application deadlines and letter of recommendation policies, which will either be online or hard copy.
  • Don’t forget to ask your teacher to have the letter put on paper with the high school letterhead so it looks professional, and to also put the letter in an envelope with the high school stamp on it.

After the teacher has completed your letter of recommendation, be sure to write a personal note of thanks. Remember that teachers write these letters on their own time and do not get paid for doing it.

If you have questions or need help with anything concerning how to go about getting a letter of recommendation, please call us to set up an appointment!


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