Asking for Letters of Recommendation

.”Back to School for Seniors

Back to School for seniors means strategizing regarding soliciting strong letters of recommendation. Schools usually ask for two letters, and students should think about highlighting different facets of their academic lives. Often that means asking for one letter from a Math or Science teacher, and the other from a Humanities teacher. Instructors who taught you junior year are the best for this task since your work is fresh in their minds and they had you in class for a full year; however, if you have a senior teacher who taught you in a previous grade—like freshmen or sophomore year—they will know you well enough to write a compelling letter. A teacher who also coached you in a sport or club like Mock Trial is also a good bet.

Another thing to consider:  which teachers saw you at your best: Which classes did you participate in the most? Did you ever attend office hours? Did you go above and beyond by doing extra work or writing extra pages on an essay? Did you help other students who were struggling? Did you ever bring the teacher articles that you found that touched on subjects explored in class? Did the teacher ever use your work as an example? Did you write that teacher a letter at the end of the year telling her how much you enjoyed her class?

How to ask for a letter or recommendation:

Once you have decided on a teacher to approach, collect all of the materials you will need. Prepare for the meeting by printing out a resume or having it ready to send to the teacher. In addition, before the meeting, reflect on how you will ask; be ready to tell the teacher what you loved about her class and which topics excited you the most. You might even find a copy of a paper or project that you aced.

Prepare a resume:

See the link to Everydae’s Guide to the College Resume to learn what to put on your resume and how to organize it. Put your best foot forward!

Once you have all of your materials collected, email the teacher for an appointment, or stop by her (virtual) office hours. Ask in person via Zoom if possible, but if you can’t, email is fine. Don’t be stuffy, but be fairly formal in the email. Include your resume and a samples of work as attachments as well. Also, make sure that you write the teacher a thank you card or email a few weeks later, acknowledging how much work it is to write letters of recommendation and how grateful you are for her help in your college search.

That’s it! You can check letters of recommendation off of your list.

Want more tips? Watch this short video on how to demonstrate leadership during the pandemic.

Here’s another plug for the importance of resumes, “Resumes may be more valuable than ever for students without test scores.”