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Do's and Don'ts when asking teachers for Recommendations

April 18, 2019

 

Asking teachers for recommendations can be scary. Here are a few tips to help steer you in the right direction.

 

Do's:

1. Ask Academic teachers from 10th or 11th grade. These teachers are skilled at writing letters of recommendation for colleges, and they have known you for at least an entire year. 

2. Ask Early. Oftentimes, it is important to ask teachers before the end of your Junior year so that they can write letters over the summer. Particularly if you are considering applying Early Decision or Early Action. Early Fall might also be appropriate. If the teachers you are asking are popular it is important because they might get asked by a lot of students and they might have a limit on the number of letters they are willing to write.

3. Set up a time in advance. Your recommendation letter is important so make sure you set up a time with your teacher and make this request in person. Not in between classes or with other students around.

4. Tell your teachers where you are in the process. If you know which colleges you plan to apply, if you are applying early, and the types of academic programs you are applying to, let them know. This can provide a good timeline and area of focus.

5. Share with your teachers why you asked them and thank them for their time. They will be flattered and appreciate your thoughtful approach. Your thoughtfulness can translate into a great recommendation letter.

 

Don'ts:

1. Don't wait until the last minute. Teacher's time is valuable, especially once the school year has begun. If they are pressed for time they may not be able to write the recommendation letter you were hoping for.
2. Don't ask to review the letter before it gets submitted. If you show that you have confidence in asking them,  they will have confidence in writing for you.

3.Don't send extra letters of recommendation. Even if the college indicates that you are permitted to do this. The best letters come from academic teachers at the high school. It is rare for an extra letter from a non-academic teacher or a community member to make a difference.

4. Don't just ask teachers that gave you a good grade. Sometimes the teachers that you had to work harder for in the classroom know you better.

5. Don't be a stranger after you ask a teacher for a recommendation. Teachers want to know any updates or changes to your plan. Although teachers know that writing recommendation letters are part of their job, they also care deeply about their students and want to know how they are doing in the process.

 

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