Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teacher Recommendation Requests

Only school counselors are required as part of their job description to write you a recommendation letter for college. Everyone else who agrees to write one is doing you a favor. Make it easy for your teacher recommenders!

Compose a letter to each teacher you are asking (two is the norm) that contains the following components:
  • A request for a college admission (and scholarships) letter of recommendation. Make sure it is worded in a way that allows her/him to gracefully decline.
  • Three specific examples or stories that you remember from your time in that teacher's classes. For example, you might describe the carton you built for your physics egg drop, the Lincoln/Douglas debate in which you came in costume and argued against slavery, or the math class talk you gave explaining that some infinities were larger than others.
  • Tell the recommender what characteristics you are hoping to highlight in your essays. These are the three words or phrases have decided really represent who you are beyond your grades and test scores such as "creative problem-solver, analytical and reliable."
  • Ask the teacher to save the completed letter electronically in case you have addition places (such as scholarship opportunities) that come up later.
  • Thank the person for his/her time and effort.

In addition to the request letter, it is a good idea to give the teacher your academic resume. If you don't know how to create one, see the samples at

Current juniors should consider giving out these requests before school ends. Some teacher don't like to do any school work over the summer, but other teachers love the chance to get a head start on the fall recommendation rush. By asking early you give the teacher the option to write a letter whenever it is best for him/her.

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