It might seem relatively easy to parents and counselors (“Just ask!”), but to teens, asking their teacher to write a letter of recommendation can be a bit intimidating. In this blog post we will outline some important tips for students to keep in mind when asking for letters of recommendation to accompany their college applications.
- Who should I ask? The general advice is for students to ask two junior year major subject teachers. Those are the teachers with the most up-to-date information, which colleges appreciate. However, there are times when a sophomore year teacher might know you better (particularly if junior year was spent virtually). Since there are so many options and different situations, it’s best to run all of this by your Campus Bound counselor for help.
- Earlier is better. It’s a good idea to ask your teachers if they will write for you earlier rather than later. Some teachers, particularly those in high demand, may put a cap on how many they will write, and you want to make the cut. It’s a good rule of thumb to ask around May or June of junior year. That way, teachers are given plenty of notice and students can leave for summer break knowing one item on their to-do list is checked off.
- Follow through. Some teachers will ask students for a resume of their high school activities, and others may give students a form to fill out. It’s important to fit these out in a timely manner and get them back in the teacher’s hands.
- Follow up. Stay in touch with your teachers. It’s nice to check in with them first thing in the fall to make sure they remember they agreed to write for you and give them an idea of your timeline, deadlines, etc.
- Mind your manners. Please and thank you are essential steps in the recommendation letter request process. Remember that teachers use their own time to write these letters for their students. Some may use vacation time, weekends, school breaks, etc. So don’t assume a teacher will automatically write for you; it’s important that you ask nicely.
- Thank you. Additionally, be sure to thank your teachers. Since it is a kind favor they are doing for you, follow up with a thank you note or email. Let your teachers know when you get into a college so they can share in your joy.