Recommendation letters are a big deal. Since you’re applying to be a student at their school, colleges want to know what your current teachers have to say about you. If you’re proud of your polished essay and you’ve worked hard to maintain an excellent GPA, you want to get a perfect recommendation letter to make your application really stand out.
Many teachers and guidance counselors are inundated with requests for recommendation letters. It’s imperative to ask them ASAP (if you haven’t already!) so that you can get your letters by the deadline(s).
Pick a teacher who loves you.
Don’t just choose a teacher that gave you straight A’s, but try to choose a teacher that has seen you tackle big challenges and succeed. It’s preferable to choose a teacher that you’ve formed some sort of relationship with, so they can discuss both your academic and personal strengths.. It’s great if they’ve taught you for more than one class, so they know you better than others might. Ideally, you could choose a teacher who teaches the subject you’re hoping to pursue in college.
Remind your teachers how amazing you are. Humbly, of course.
Here’s the thing that I quickly realized about getting the perfect recommendation letter. While you can tick off all of your biggest accomplishments in each subject area or extracurricular activity, your favorite teachers probably can’t. While they may view you as a dedicated and enthusiastic student, they may not know that you got a 5 on your AP exam or started a study group outside of class. This is where you come in!
When you ask your teacher if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation, it’s incredibly helpful and wise to also give them a mini resume. Basically, this should list all of the achievements you’ve had in their class. Remind them about your grades, your enthusiasm for the subject, your commitment to studying outside of class, a project you really excelled in, or any other noteworthy accomplishment. Not only will it help ensure your finished letter is detailed and lists the things that are important to you, it will help your teacher out as well.
Let your teacher know your future goals and plans.
If you’re choosing a teacher because you want to study their subject in college, let them know that! If you’re trusting them to write you a recommendation letter to your absolute dream school, tell them that. It’s important that they know what your future goals are, and how much their letter can help you achieve them.
Make sure your teacher knows the deadlines and has all proper materials.
Here’s a traumatic story for you. There was only one university I desperately wanted to go to, and all my teachers knew that. When I asked them for letters, they knew how important it was… or so I thought. You can imagine my shock when I approached my teacher’s desk to ask her a question, only to spot my pre-addressed envelope and brag sheet sitting on a stack of papers… four days after it was due to the school.
Check, double check, and triple check that your teachers are aware of deadlines! If they are sending it in themselves, provide them with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes. Make their lives as easy as possible. It doesn’t look good if their letter is late. Give them everything weeks in advance, and check in every once in awhile so they don’t forget.
Thank your teacher profusely for your perfect recommendation letter!
Teachers are incredibly busy, and they’re likely writing multiple recommendation letters on top of grading papers and preparing lessons. Make sure they know how appreciative you are, but not only when they’re finished. Tell them how grateful you are when you ask them to write it, and thank them again every time you check in. They are helping you make your college dreams a reality, and that should not be taken for granted!