Monday, August 10, 2015

Who should write my recommendations?

As you begin your college applications, you will eventually come to the major question of "Who is going to write my letters of recommendations?" This is a question that will plague your mind from the moment you select those references until after you've received your admissions decision from the colleges to which you applied. Here are some things you may want to consider before selecting the teachers, administrators, and mentors to write your letters of recommendation!

1. Look at the application requirements - For certain universities, they will require specific letters depending on the major/academic program you hope to enter. Oftentimes, if you are entering a science or mathematics program, the university will require a letter from a science or mathematics teacher. The same can be said for a prestigious English or Foreign Language program.

2. Think about the classes you excelled in - This is a no-brainer; you will want a letter of recommendation from someone who can speak highly of your scholastic ability, your desire to challenge yourself academically, and your general personality. Typically the classes you did well in in high school will be those same classes whose teachers' you are in good standing with. Consider these teachers first as possible references.

3. Think about the classes you didn't excel in - Also a no-brainer, a teacher who genuinely did not enjoy having you in class nor seeing you in the hallway will not write a great letter of recommendation for you. Unless you absolutely need their letter (Look at Tip #1), do not even consider using these teachers as references. ** Sometimes a teacher whose class you did not perform well in, but you challenged yourself in, can write a good letter of recommendation. But, use your judgement carefully.

4. Bosses, Coaches, and Clergy work too - Some universities offer options besides just two teachers for letters of recommendations, ie: one academic reference and one personal reference. These letters are just as great at supporting an application. Typically a coach, boss, or pastor can provide more details about your personality traits and what attributes you may bring to a college campus. If you feel that their observations of you will better support your application, then definitely add a letter of recommendation from them into your application!

5. No family members - Family members do not hold much credibility as a writer for a letter of recommendation. Even if you work under an aunt/uncle or your dad was your baseball coach, this should be your last resort for a letter of recommendation. Use an assistant manager or an athletic trainer who can still attest to your ability and your leadership skills. * If it is a real issue, such as your mother was your only upper level math teacher and you need a math recommendation for the Physics program, then I would call the admissions office at the universities where you plan to apply and inform them of this "conflict." They may allow this letter or may provide you with an alternative option.

Now that you have decided who will write your letters of recommendation, be sure to ask them with plenty of time before the deadline. I suggest asking each reference and giving them about a month and a half to complete their recommendations. Some of the teachers, especially those who are well-liked by your classmates, could have ten to twenty letters to write for your Senior class. You will need to provide them with the information about how the evaluation form will be coming. Common App recommendations will be delivered to the teacher electronically, however if it is a physical letter that the reference will be sending, be sure to provide them with an addressed, stamped envelope so that they can simply send the letter out without any hassle. Finally, send a thank you card to those people who write your letters of recommendation to thank them for their time and effort.

Who are you asking to write your letters of recommendation and why?
Leave it in the comments section below!

enjoy the chase,

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