Admit it: Colleges want letters of recommendations the simultaneously support the biographical and academic information of your application and provide an outstanding academic and personal acumen. Your test scores and academic profile will provide the admission office with the objective materials needed while the essays, interview, activities and letters of recommendations establish the subjective components of the application.
A strong letter of recommendation will enhance the subjective materials and make your application personal. This is critical when admissions committees are comparing students with similar scores and grades. Crisp Consulting + Coaching would like to offer a few strategies to secure a successful letter of recommendation.
Prime Candidate. Identify the teachers who can write effective letters highlighting your academic contributions, intellectual curiosity and personal strengths. This is not necessarily your favorite teacher or the teacher from the class where you received an A. This could be a teacher of the course where you faced struggle to understand content and achieve a good grade. Often this teacher will accent your work strong work ethic and academic prowess.
Primer. Once you have identified potential recommendation writers, politely ask the following questions:
1. I am applying to college xyz and think you recommendation would support my application. Are you comfortable writing a strong letter that highlights my work in the class?
2. If yes, are you able to meet the deadline for college xyz?
To assist the teacher, provide a copy of your activities sheet and transcript. During the process, it is acceptable to reconnect with the writer a week prior to the deadline to ensure that the letters have been mailed.
Prime Time. Plan ahead and create a calendar noting when your letters of recommendation are due, typically two to three weeks before the application deadlines. Teachers have busy lives and the fall semester often brings extra responsibilities, therefore ask teachers early and include your deadline in your requests. If the teachers are not using an electronic format, providing an envelope addressed to the admission office will assist in expediting the process.
Prim + Proper. After your applications are submitted, compose a handwritten thank you note to the teachers that submitted your letters of recommendation. When you are admitted to schools, make a personal visit to the teacher and inform them of your decisions and thank them for their assistance once more.
Brian D. Crisp is an independent educational consultant with Crisp Consulting + Coaching who works with families in Asheville, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and Savannah to optimize and realize their unique educational fit and admission success. As a former professor, administrator, and teacher, Brian has the knowledge and skills to counsel families in all aspects of educational planning.