Teacher recommendations are an integral part of your college application. They show admissions officers what kind of student you are from the perspective of your teachers. A genuine, flattering recommendation letter can greatly increase your chances of admission. Follow the steps below to make sure your recommendations make you stand out as an exceptional student.
Start forming relationships early
The process of getting a good teacher recommendation starts long before the college application season. Work to form good relationships with the teachers that you like, so when the time comes, you have someone to write your recommendation letter who actually knows you well. What’s the best way to form these relationships? If you have trouble with any of their class material, schedule meetings with them outside of class to get help. Not only will you improve your grade, you’ll also show your teacher that you care about doing well. Plus, you’ll get to know them better one-on-one.
Another way to get to know teachers better is by joining any clubs or student organizations that they lead. This method allows you to get to know the teacher outside of the classroom. They’ll see you in a different setting and be able to discuss your extracurricular skill sets in the recommendation letter.
Make a list
When college application season rolls around, make a list of all of your teachers from sophomore and junior year, and try to narrow down some good recommenders. Sophomore and junior year teachers are the best choices for college application recommenders. Try not to pick teachers from freshman or senior years. Even if you get to know a teacher really well in your freshman year, they may not remember you too well three years later. Meanwhile, senior year teachers don’t have much time to get to know you before college applications are due.
Pick the teachers who know you best
Think about which teachers know you best, narrowing the list down to a final two. It’s great if your recommenders teach subjects you want to study in college, because they can explain why you would be a great fit for that particular major. However, if you want to study history, but love your biology teacher, they can still be your recommender. Pick the teachers that know you better over the ones who teach in the field you want to study. The recommendation will come off more genuine.
Once you have chosen the teachers you want to recommend you, draft a well-written, polite email asking them to write you the letter. Explain why you think they would write a great recommendation. Tell them how much you enjoyed their class and valued their teaching. They’ll write a better letter if you ask them in a nicer way.
What if the teacher doesn’t really know you?
If you need a recommendation from a teacher who doesn’t know you well, ask if they need any additional information to help them write the letter. Tell them what activities you are involved in at school, what you want to study, how you’ve spent your summers in high school, and any other pertinent information. They’ll be able to write a more personalized letter.
Write thank you notes
After applications have been submitted, write genuine, thoughtful thank you notes to your recommenders. Your teachers will definitely appreciate the gesture. It shows that you have manners and are grateful for everything that they do.
Now that you’ve tackled teacher recommendations, you can move on to the other parts of the college application process. Wondering what to do next? Check out my college application checklist.