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Asking for Letters of Recommendation

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.”









What the Corona Virus means for the College Application Process

What the Corona Virus means for the College Application Process

While many colleges are closing their physical doors for the rest of the year, current high school juniors and seniors are wondering how the Coronavirus outbreak will affect them and their college search process. The good news is that everyone is in the same boat, so don’t panic.

Regular decisions: most colleges are finalizing their decisions and regular decision announcements should come out on time.

Testing: colleges are aware that SAT testing may be postponed or interrupted. If you miss your testing date, you will be able to rescheduled it for a later date; it would be a good idea to look ahead and push your dates now. The College Board may even add extra dates.

College visits: If you were planning on visiting colleges during spring break, most have cancelled tours and admitted student events. Instead, take advantage of virtual tours and if possible, consider rescheduling your college tour to the summer.

School work: Whether your school has gone virtual or remains open, grades remain one of the most important factors that admission officers consider. Make sure to keep up with your work and challenge yourself!

Summer opportunities: This is also a great time to research summer activities. Look for programs that tap into and develop one of your passions. Take a MOOC—a massive open online class, join a local conversation class to keep honing your spoken command of a language, look for a part time job, or research internship and volunteer opportunities in a field of interest.

Some unknowns:

Decision day: Usually, applicants need to let colleges know if they will attend a college by May 1st; however, colleges may be extending the date to June 1st. 

Advanced Placement exams: APs are another unknown. They usually take place during the first two weeks of May. Will test schools be open by then? Will they be rescheduled? We don’t know yet. Also, Many parents and students are wondering if they’ll be prepared for the test if they’ve missed a lot of school. 

Make sure to keep up with your work and check the College Board website for practice materials under the “Exam Preparation” section. In addition, AP teachers have access to other online tools and activities that they can assign to students. Check in with your teachers to see if they can assign you work to prepare you for the exam.

Finally, when in doubt, check in with your counselor!