How to get a great Letter of Recommendation for college admissions

How to get a great Letter of Recommendation for college admissions

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How to get a great Letter of Recommendation for college admissions
Sahil Dahal

Letters of recommendation serve as a valuable tool for colleges to gain a holistic understanding of your high school achievements and assess your potential as a candidate and individual. Here are a few excellent tips to get great Letter of Recommendation for college admissions.

How to get a great Letter of Recommendation for college admissions

Understanding College Requirements

Before proceeding, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements set by each college. Typically, colleges expect letters of recommendation from your school counsellor and a few teachers. Additionally, principals may be included in some cases. Occasionally, colleges may request letters from non-academic sources like pastors, coaches, or even peers. Most colleges provide recommendation forms along with their applications to simplify the process. Some application services, such as the Common App, have recommendation forms.

Careful Selection of Recommenders

When selecting your recommenders, choosing individuals with whom you share a positive relationship is important. Consider teachers who have recently taught you and have consistently demonstrated interest in and appreciation for your work. It's crucial to avoid favouritism and instead opt for teachers who have provided thoughtful feedback on your assignments and recognized your academic growth. An ideal recommender should be capable of providing specific, qualified examples of your contributions to the class and your exceptional performance. Moreover, they should be able to paint a comprehensive picture of you as both a student and an individual.

Ensuring Strong Recommendations

Regardless of your choice of recommender, it is vital to ensure they are confident in their ability to write a strong and accurate recommendation. If a person is uncertain or unable to provide specific details about her academic performance, it might be wise to seek an alternative recommender. A lukewarm recommendation can potentially harm your application. Ideally, your recommender should highlight your positive impact on the classroom environment and emphasize the qualities that make you stand out as a student. This is particularly crucial for highly selective colleges, including Ivy League institutions.

Allowing Sufficient Time for Recommenders

To ensure a smooth process, it is advisable to approach your recommenders as early as possible, preferably one month before your application deadline or during the early fall. Additionally, following up with them at least once before the letter is due is essential to confirm they have all the necessary information and materials.

A reasonable time to request recommendations is at the end of your junior year. At this point, your teachers and counsellors have recently interacted with you for a full year or semester, making your achievements fresh in their minds. Additionally, they will have the entire summer to work on your recommendation, eliminating any sense of rush.

Facilitating the Process for Recommenders

To alleviate the workload on your recommenders, providing them with any necessary forms, instructions, and materials is important. Take the initiative to inform them about the application service you are using and mention that you will invite them through the service to complete the recommendation.

Guide them on the submission process, which often involves electronic submission through programs like Naviance or the Common Application. However, if, for any reason, your recommender needs to send the recommendation via regular mail, prepare the required forms, and provide stamped envelopes addressed to the admission office.

Furthermore, ensure you supply your recommenders with a copy of your transcript, which can be obtained from your counsellor's office. This will save them time and effort.

Prepare a concise resume summarizing your academic achievements, interests, and goals, as well as your progress and accomplishments in their class.

Lastly, follow up a week before the recommendation letters are due to verify they have been sent.

Remember to Express your Gratitude

Remember to express your gratitude by thanking your recommenders for their time and effort. Teachers and other individuals involved are often busy and receive numerous requests from other students. Inform them of your admissions decisions when they arrive, appreciating their support.

Exercise Caution with Additional Recommendations

Admission officers are typically provided with abundant information about you, and as a result, they generally do not require more letters than specified. However, if someone possesses a unique insight into your abilities, it is advisable to contact the admission office and inquire if sending an additional letter is acceptable. It never hurts to ask.

Overcoming Apprehensions and Seeking Support

Requesting a college recommendation letter from a teacher or another adult can be intimidating. However, it's important to remember that many individuals consider these letters part of their responsibilities and genuinely desire to witness your success on your path to college. You may be pleasantly surprised by their eagerness to assist you.

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FAQs

How important are letters of recommendation for college admissions?

Letters of recommendation hold significant importance in college admissions. They provide a second opinion about your high school achievements and offer insights into your character and abilities from someone who has observed your academic and personal growth.

Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation for college?

It is recommended to ask for letters of recommendation from your school counsellor and teachers. Choose individuals who have taught you recently, know you well, and can provide specific examples of your academic performance and personal qualities.

What qualities should I look for in a recommender?

When selecting recommenders, look for individuals with whom you have a positive relationship, who have demonstrated a genuine interest in your academic progress, and who have provided thoughtful feedback on your work. They should be able to speak about your strengths, accomplishments, and unique qualities that make you stand out.

How can I ensure that my recommendation letters are strong and impactful?

To ensure strong and impactful recommendation letters, choosing recommenders who are enthusiastic about writing on your behalf is important. Provide them with relevant information about your accomplishments, goals, and interests. Additionally, politely communicate your aspirations and the specific qualities you would like them to highlight in the letter.

When is the best time to ask for letters of recommendation for college admissions?

It is best to ask for letters of recommendation as early as possible, preferably at least one month before your application deadline or during the early fall. This gives your recommenders ample time to craft thoughtful letters and ensures they clearly understand your achievements and goals.

What information should I give my recommenders to help them write a great letter?

To assist your recommenders in writing a great letter, provide them with any necessary forms, instructions, and materials required by the college or application service. Additionally, share a copy of your academic transcript, summarize your accomplishments in a short resume, and offer insights into your academic progress, interests, and goals. Regularly communicate with your recommenders to ensure they have all the information they need and express gratitude for their support throughout the process.

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