Letters of Recommendations

Letters of Recommendations

Letters of Recommendation help to provide admission officers a more personal view of who you are. This is done first by your essays and any extended writing as part of the application, but also is done with letters of recommendations. These pieces of our application hope to provide clues on who you are in the classroom and what else people can say about you based on their interactions with you.

How to ask for the recommendation

  1. Email the teacher of interest* asking for a time to meet in person to discuss college recommendation possibility.
  2. In person at the meeting, ask if the teacher is willing to write for you. Be sure to give the teacher an easy "out" when you ask. You do NOT want a teacher to say yes, if he/she does not really want to write the letter for you.

*Most colleges wants two recommenders, one math/science and one humanities AND usually a teacher that has taught you junior/senior year.

How to get a good recommendation:

    1. Be authentic.
    2. Gain self-awareness. Do an assessment on how you see yourself vs. how others see you. Seek feedback from trusted people in your life. Don’t go to the people that will just give you praise, because although that will make you feel good in the moment the truth eventually surfaces.
    3. Recognize that changing someone’s perception will take time. Depending on what research you read, it typically takes eight subsequent positive interactions to counter one negative one. It takes persistence and patience.

What you can do now:

    1. Small, predictable interactions increase trust greater than one-time major event.
    2. Be forward. If you don’t think a teacher might have the best perception of you or if you have not put your best effort forward, schedule a time to talk and be very forward, “I have not done the work as I should, but I want to make the effort to show you that this class matters to me.” (Then you actually need to do it.)

Below are common areas that are asked to be assessed by recommenders.

Time management skills



Intellectual curiosity

Emotional-Social Maturity


A lot of these areas are answered by the following questions:

    • Are you on time to meetings that you schedule? Do you schedule meetings? Do you schedule meetings a day or more in advance?
    • Are you tardy to class? Do you like to stroll in with Chick-fil-A in hand and a supersize drink in another?
    • Do you help other classmates?
    • Do you say things like "this is so easy" in class?
    • Do you say things like "I need a better grade" or "I don't care about this class."
    • Do you go "beyond" the expectations? Do you take pride in your work? Do you ensure that your put effort and time to make your materials presentable?
    • Do you do and say a lot things that is "just joking"?
    • Are the words, "I just wanted to let you know that I will need to leave a little early from class today" the only words you speak in the classroom?
    • Did you look at your phone to check the time? when you were notified of a text?
    • Do you use your phone in class -- ever?
    • Have you ever apologized to a teacher a day later (not immediately, but at least 24 hours)?
    • Have you placed blame on a teacher or someone else?

Recommendations are a good way for colleges to distinguish between two students that both have 95%. Unfortunately the truth is that a lot (most) of the applicants will have great scores, grades and numbers … these are not the reasons to be admitted, the factors that come next make the decision.