Whom and when to ask?
Many colleges require letters of recommendation. Some require that you obtain recommendations from teachers in specific subjects; others will allow you to make the choice. The teachers’ recommendations should support the other data regarding academic and personal characteristics submitted in your application. Instructors who have taught you recently and know you well, regardless of the grade you earned in their class, are the best choices. Still other schools may ask for a personal recommendation from someone like your pastor, employer or someone for whom you did volunteer work.
There is often a space on the recommendation where you may waive your legal right to see references that are written on your behalf. We suggest that you waive this right. If you have chosen your “recommenders” wisely, there should be no reason for you to see what they have actually written. By waiving your rights, you show an admissions officer that you have confidence in what is being written on your behalf.
Asking for the Teacher Recommendation:
The appropriate way to ask a teacher to write a recommendation will go something like this:
“Would you feel comfortable writing a recommendation for me?”
You should ask teachers for recommendations as early in the application process as possible (usually early fall) and then provide them with the recommendation forms at least two weeks before the application is due. Each recommendation form should be accompanied with an envelope. Instructors should then be reminded to give their finished application to the Counseling Office or ask if they prefer you to pick it up and deliver it.
We strongly prefer that a teacher’s recommendation be included in the entire application packet. We have found that it is less likely for your forms to become lost at a school if all the student’s application materials all go to the school in the same envelope. However if your teacher tells you he or she prefers to mail the recommendation separately, provide a stamped, addressed envelope and let the Counseling Office know that it is being mailed separately.
Thank You Notes are Very Important
Once you have been informed that the recommendation has been written, it is important to write a thank you note. Someone, who is taking the time to do something this special for you, deserves a written thank you acknowledging your gratitude. Writing a recommendation often represents several hours of work on your behalf, so it is important to express your appreciation.