Tips on Letters of Recommendation for the College Application

June 5, 2013
June 5, 2013 ACS

One of the requirements for most college applications is the letter of recommendation. Sure, those SAT and ACT scores are important, as is your GPA and classroom performance, but an excellent letter of recommendation can only benefit you in the competitive market of applying to college.

According to college adviser Lee Bierer, there are three types of letters of recommendation.

  • The first is your counselor’s recommendation. This is prepared for and written by your guidance counselor and is a basic aspect of each college application.
  • The second is a letter of recommendation from a teacher  who teaches a core subject.
  • The third letter of recommendation is from a “non-core” subject teacher, such as your art or music teacher, coach, club adviser, or even an employer.

Out of these three letters of recommendation, the teacher letter of recommendation usually will carry the most importance. It is vital that you know the best teacher to ask. Having a strong letter of recommendation will offer the admissions officer a good idea of who you are beyond the letter grade you earned in the teacher’s class.

So ask yourself which teacher really knows you the best. Was there a teacher who saw you struggle at first and then persevere in class? Which teacher saw your motivation and desire to learn and ask questions? Which teacher saw you strive each day to do your best?

It is also important to remember to ask your counselor, teacher, or anyone else writing your letter of recommendation early. If you wait right before the application deadline, many teachers may not have time to write an excellent letter of recommendation. In addition, they may have other letters of recommendation to write, so it is a great idea to approach them early for the best results.

You should also be prepared to give the teacher, counselor, coach, or employer information about you. Include a list of extracurricular activities, any honors, scholarships and/or awards you have received, as well as information about community service, club involvement, and what you have done over your summers that might be helpful for your application.

Some colleges may ask for two letters of recommendation. Just make sure you don’t ask your algebra teacher and your calculus teacher, or your biology and chemistry teachers. Vary who you ask so the admissions officer can see your strengths in a variety of subjects.

If you have any questions about writing a letter of recommendation or anything else pertaining to the college admission process, please give us a call and we can discuss all we have to offer!



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