It is never too early to start thinking about prepping for college, nor is it too early to start thinking about who you are going to ask letters of recommendation from. Going up to one of your previous teachers may be difficult to do, but here are some tips to help make the process of getting a letter of recommendation a little smoother.
Who should you ask?
Typically, it is best to ask a teacher that has gotten to know you well and will help you shine in those college apps, but do no think you should only stick to them. Like I said, you want to be able to set yourself apart from other applicants, so it is also a great idea to talk to coaches, church pastors, and after-school program directors to write you a letter of rec. These should all be people that have known you for several years or have worked with you on a steady basis.
When should you ask?
In high school, most students wait until college apps are a month away form being due. Now while that is not a bad idea, it may not be the best since teachers usually write multiple letters of recommendation amongst taking care if their own course load. The prime time to ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation, is at the end of your junior year/the summer of your senior year. This not only saves you from the awkward “I have fifteen other letters of recommendation to do and I may not have time to do yours”, but it also gives you time to look up any special questions or requirements colleges/universities may ask your teacher to respond to in their letter. This also gives you time to think of back-ups.
How should you ask?
So you know who and when to ask your teachers/outside source for letters of recommendation, but how should ask them? Typically, if you already have steady communication with this teacher or outside source, bringing this up at the end of class/practice should be a breeze. Here are some key points to remember
- If you are asking during the summer, most likely you will have to email your teachers for a letter of recommendation, so be sure to include your name, what class and year you had them (if you haven’t talked to them in a while) and mention what schools you will be applying to, when you have to have the letter of rec ready by, and any additional requirements they need to address in their letter
- If you have been an office aid or teachers aid go to your high school administration and teacher and ask them for letters of rec. Odds are, not a lot of seniors would have these roles if these guys didn’t already know you.
- If its during the school year and you emailed them over the summer, go the first week of classes on a break, lunch, or after school and remind them in case they haven’t checked their email. If they have checked their emails and gotten back to you, it should be smooth sailing from here
- Personal tip*bring them a list of achievements, volunteering, or sports related experience that way they can highlight those in their letters or if they do not remember you in class but know you did well as a student, they can focus on this.
- If possible, ask an alumna from one of the colleges or university’s you are applying to, to become one of your recommenders. Not only do you know have a common interest, but they can also help mentor you in the process.
- HAVE BACKUPS, I cannot tell you how many seniors end up panicking when their first choice was taken by other seniors that decided to plan way ahead and ask them in advance.
- After you have asked for your letters of rec, make sure to thank the people that wrote them for you, they did take time out of their day to help you get into the college of your choice. I recommend a thank you note, everyone appreciates being appreciated.