The one thing I dreaded the most out of the college application was getting recommendation letters. You have no idea, for a shy and quiet person as me it was just so difficult talking to teachers or forming any type of relation with school staff and faculty. Recommendation letters are about that, about speaking for yourself and communicating to your recommenders why are you different, the abilities, challenges, and academic performances that set you apart from others.
Teachers have an idea of the type of student you are when you are in the classroom, but sometimes they do not know you at that volunteering work you have been doing for two years or they do not know what your interests are. Communicate with your teachers, counselors, coaches, and mentors. Letters of recommendations are critical and context is highly important.
If you are shy, quiet, or timid do not get easily scared, start building a relation with your favorite teacher or mentor. Do not be afraid to speak to them about your goals. This is true not only when you are requesting a letter of recommendation but for your future endeavors too. Speaking and forming relations are very essential (I should take that advice too!).
Start your senior year!
- Choose teachers who you know and they know you too
Think of a teacher or mentor you are close to. A class you greatly enjoy or maybe you have learned a lot in. A teacher or mentor who has pushed you to strive for the best is a candidate to write a college worthy recommendation letter. Your recommenders should be familiar with your academic standing and extracurricular.
- Let your counselor and teachers know ahead of time
Teachers and counselors are busy, very busy assisting hundreds of students; it is only fair to let them know in advance. If you let them know in advice your counselor or teacher will most likely dedicate more time to your letter and you will have a fabulous recommendation letter. Your counselor and teacher will put in more thought and time to your letter, remember you want quality. If you are a senior, start letting your teacher and counselor know about your consideration.
- Inform your recommenders about why you want to go to college
Think about why you want to go to college. Maybe you will be the first in your family; maybe you love studying, or want to be a doctor. Share all those dreams and aspirations with them, they will take everything into consideration and they will express it out in the letter they write for you. Remember teachers will tell YOUR story in the letter, the most you want to be is detailed about who you are.
- Show them your resume or a list of activities
As I mentioned earlier teachers might only know what you do in class but not outside. A resume listing your achievements, volunteering, sports, internships, jobs, and awards can provide your teacher a greater insight into your life not only as a student, but as a leader as well.
- Provide to them application deadlines, forms, and websites
Inform them of deadlines so they know by when you need the letter. If your recommender has to send the letter, pre-address it so your recommender can mail it without any complications. Nowadays, if I am not mistaken letters can be submit it online, just provide your recommender a link to the website. If you have to mail it, provide your teacher with the necessary forms. Most universities and colleges prefer that recommenders sign their name right on the closing part of the envelope to testify its legibility.
- Write a thank you note
Do not forget to thank your recommender, it is a nice gesture and shows your appreciation. Grab a few thank you cards and express your gratitude.
I remember I asked my math teacher and history teacher
for a recommendation letter. Who are you going to ask?