Do you Need them?
Many seniors will complete college materials and never need a recommendation letter. There are 3 typical situations where you may need to ask a school official to write a letter on your behalf:
- If the school provides you with a form in the college application packet (There may be one form for teachers and/or one for your counselor called a "Secondary School Report" form) Usually these are requested for private colleges.
- If you do not meet the stated admissions guidelines and could use a letter to "boost" your image.
- If you are applying for a scholarship.
If you are unsure if you should submit a letter of recommendation, check with your counselor.
Steps for securing letters of recommendation
IF THE COLLEGE PROVIDES A FORM
- Be sure that you have filled out all the portions that you are required to complete (Name, address, etc.).
- Type if at all possible.
- Many of those forms may ask whether you "waive" your rights to view the recommendation after it has been completed. Most colleges state that it is better to check "yes". A teacher or counselor is more likely to write freely when they know that the information will only be read by the admissions staff. In a similar vein, admissions staff will know that a teacher or counselor responded honestly if the student would not see the finished product.
FOR ALL LETTERS REQUESTED
- Choose a person who knows you the best and who you think will write a good recommendation for you. If they don't know you well, the letter will be general and not much help to you. Do not EVER include recomendations from relatives! But do include bosses, your leaders, advisors.
- Provide the person writing the recommendation with an envelope. If they will mail it, also include a stamp. Counselors will give you the envelope and recommendation back to you to mail or include in a packet of application materials.
- Deliver the recommendation to the teacher personally. Do NOT leave it on a desk, in the teacher's mailbox, or depend on someone else to deliver it for you.
- For counselors, hand it to the counselor personally with the Recommendation Request Form, or put it in the box hanging on their door. Two weeks is the minimum acceptable turnaround time.
- For private colleges, give a Counselor Evaluation form to 1 or 2 core class teachers orfaculty member who will member who will give it to the counselor in a sealed envelope.
- Write a thank you note to the people who write you recommendations. They are helping you out and they will remember you in a very positive way for it! You may need a recommendation again!