Application Process Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation

Many colleges require letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or other adults who know you well; even if a letter of recommendation is not required, you should include one with your application if your school will review it. It provides a personal insight into your profile that can only benefit you during the application process. Read on for more information about securing letters of recommendation.

  • How do I decide whom to ask?
    • Think about the courses you have particularly enjoyed and/or the ones that are relevant to your intended major. The teachers of those classes are a good option.
    • Did you have any teachers for more than one class? Did you get along exceptionally well with any particular teacher? Are any of your teachers also your club advisor or coach?
    • Choose people who will be enthusiastically supportive of you, your talents, and your accomplishments!
  • Ask your recommenders for their letters long before you will need them. It takes time to write a good one!
  • Many schools want to see a letter from a teacher of a core subject area (mathematics, science, English, social studies, or perhaps foreign language if you have completed numerous years of study). You might also consider asking a longtime employer or friend of the family, but these should not replace a school-based recommender.
  • As a rule, allow at least 3 weeks for a teacher/counselor to write a letter.
  • Ask your chosen recommender(s) in person.
  • Give him/her a due date by which you need their letter(s). Be clear about how he/she will submit the information (online submission, by mail, etc.).
  • Give your recommender(s) any relevant cover sheets for the letter AND complete any necessary information at the top.
  • Check in with your recommender(s) at least one week before it is due to see that they have completed your letter(s).
  • Schools who participate with the Common Application and Universal Applicationhave the option to submit letters online. If you choose this method:
    • Let your recommender(s) know to expect an email from the Common and/or Universal app with login details.
    • Type recommender(s) email information accurately! Otherwise, he/she will not be able to submit materials online.
  • Send a thank-you note!
  • Consider giving your recommenders an activities list or resume; this will ensure that they are aware of your interests, activities, and leadership in high school. See a sample below.