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Getting the Best Letters of Rec

Many colleges ask students to include letters of recommendations in their application packages. Often, though not always, they request two from teachers and one from a counselor. Recommendations are important because they can help admissions officers get a deeper understanding of a student and his character. Here are our tips for getting awesome letters of rec:

  • Give recommenders as much lead time as possible. Remember that many of them will be writing stacks of letters; yours will be better if they don't have to rush. Make sure that they're aware of deadlines!

  • Obviously, it's to your advantage to choose recommenders who know you well and have great things to say about you. The teachers you choose should be recent--11th or 12th grade--and, ideally, one should be a math or science teacher and one an English or history teacher.

  • Help them write a good letter by providing them with a resume or brag sheet. Include the class(es) you took with them, specific projects worked on or achievements in the class, and grades. In addition, share your plans for college and beyond.

  • For those students at schools that use Naviance, you can invite your recommenders via that system. If not, the Common App provides the same opportunity. In the case where your recommender needs to send a letter via the Post Office, remember to provide them with an addressed, stamped envelope.

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