When it comes to the college application, letters of recommendation are crucial in making a good impression with the admissions committee. Most institutions ask for two or three letters of recommendation for college from individuals who really know you well. When it comes to letters of recommendation for colleges, the people you ask to write them should be able to describe your capabilities, skills, personality, and achievements in detail and describe them with conviction.
So, let’s go over how to ask for a letter of recommendation for college and the process of letters of recommendation for college in general.
How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for College
It’s important to choose teachers, counselors, and employers whom you know have strong writing skills and are aware of your credentials. Here’s a look at some good candidates to ask for letters of recommendation for college.
Ask Your Guidance Counselor for a Letter of Recommendation for College
Make sure that you establish good relationships with your guidance counselor and teachers. Typically, the first person you should ask to write one of your letters of recommendation for college is your guidance counselor. They have been working with you in your college search and know what schools are looking for in a recommendation letter. Guidance counselors have also known you and your curriculum throughout high school, making them once again a good person to ask for a letter of recommendation for college.
Do your homework on the colleges and universities you’re interested in applying to, because they may have specific requirements for whom the letters of recommendation should come from. That said, guidance counselors are usually accepted by most colleges for this purpose. Still, some colleges have more specific requirements, such as letters of recommendation for college coming from specific people, like teachers of a certain subject area. This is why doing your homework on the colleges you like is so important.
Ask Teachers for Letters of Recommendation for College
Another natural candidate to write you a letter of recommendation for college admission is one of your teachers. Ask teachers who know you well to write your recommendation. It doesn’t really matter which year you took their course, as long as you have a good relationship, and you are confident that they will write you a strong letter. Focus especially on teachers who you continue to talk to after taking their course and who have told you things like what an enjoyment you were to have in their class. Obviously, getting good grades in their class is a useful criterion for choosing which teachers to ask, but it’s not the only one.
It may help to ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation for college whose subject of expertise relates to the subject you want to study. This is particularly important for colleges that specifically require letters of recommendation from teachers that taught you certain subjects, such as math, science, foreign languages, English, and other specific curricula; such requirements by college admissions are not uncommon for institutions these days. The college or university’s website will typically explain the specific requirements for letters of recommendation but reaching out to the college’s admissions office isn’t a bad idea either if you have questions or need clarification.
When it comes to letters of recommendation for college from teachers, students should ask the teachers with whom they have had the best relationships. Preferably, this kind of teacher knows you well and can describe both your academic and personal strengths. What’s more, it’s a good idea for you to ask recent teachers you’ve had for letters of recommendations for college; recent teachers mean those who’ve taught you during the second half of high school. The reason why this is significant is because students change and grow over the course of their high school career, and usually admissions offices want the most current insights available on you.
Ask Employers, Coaches, and Others for Letters of Recommendation for College
Many colleges and universities like some diversity in your letters of recommendation for college. By diversity, it is meant, letters of recommendation from various sources and people in different capacities. By having a range of people writing you letters of recommendation for college, college admissions can get a fuller idea of the candidate applying to their institution. Diversity of letters of recommendation for college can come from a range of different teachers you’ve had, but also from other sources.
People like managers or bosses at jobs you’ve worked or coaches you’ve had in sports can be great individuals to ask for letters of recommendation for college. These recommendations may not hold as much weight as a counselor or teacher recommendation (though this depends on the school), they add an additional side to your personality and quality as a candidate for colleges. You’ll still want to go to guidance counselors and teachers first but asking for letters of recommendation for college from people like employers, coaches, supervisors of voluntary organizations you’ve worked for, and similar individuals, can act as useful supplements to your other recommendations. They should highlight your strengths as a leader and bring light to your involvement in extracurricular activities as well as teamwork abilities.
How Many Letters of Recommendation for College Should I Send?
When it comes to the question of how many letters of recommendation for college you should ask for and send depends very much on the college you’re applying to. The number of college recommendation letters required varies from college to college. There are some colleges and universities that don't ask for any letters of recommendation while others may require several. Therefore, students should research the admissions requirements online to find the precise number of letters of recommendation for college that are necessary.
What’s more, several colleges allow applicants the option to submit supplemental letters in addition to standard letters of recommendation for college. Colleges and universities that allow this are great for adding in letters of recommendation from non-educational sources, like coaches, employers, volunteer organization supervisors, and similar. Sending in supplemental letters of recommendation makes sense when you want to tell the college admissions board something new or unique about you that a teacher or guidance counselor might not be able to address.
Still, it remains to be said that the quantity of letters of recommendation for college is not automatically going to be impressed by multiple college recommendation letters. When it comes to letters of recommendation for college, quality trumps quantity.
When Should I Ask for My Letters of Recommendation for College?
When it comes to the timing of a college letter of recommendation, it’s advisable to make sure you provide your references at least one month before your earliest deadline to complete and send your letters. Therefore, in terms of the high school calendar, it’s a good idea for students to ask for letters of recommendation for college in the late spring or early summer of their junior year. Both late spring and early summer are enough time for applying to early action deadlines (typically in the following November) and for regular admissions deadlines.
Overall, when it comes to asking for a letter of recommendation to college, the earlier you ask, the better. Many teachers prefer to write recommendations over the summer, when they aren’t regularly teaching every week. It’s also key to note that some teachers could be asked by tons of students to write them letters of recommendation for colleges and may have their plate full of them to write. By asking early and giving your teachers, or other people you ask for a recommendation, more time to write them, the better and more thorough your letters of recommendation for college will be.
What Should I Provide to the Person Writing My College Recommendation Letter?
When you ask a teacher or other individual to write a college recommendation letter, you should give them certain types of information that will help the person’s memory and assist them in the writing process. Considering many high school teachers and counselors are asked to write several dozen letters of recommendation for college per year, any help you can provide them will be much appreciated.
Students should provide recommenders with information about their academic history and record. Providing writers of letters of recommendation for college with specific achievements and experiences — for example, a major project you completed in a class or a volunteer organization you started — is a good move because they give the person writing your college recommendation letter greater direction.
Another helpful piece of information to provide to someone writing your college recommendation letter is an explanation of the reason you’re interested in a particular college or university. Providing your recommender with a copy of your college application essay can be a big help in this regard. It will always provide a source of unity in your application.
Of course, one of the most essential pieces of information to give to the person writing your letter of recommendation for college is application deadlines. Make sure to provide everyone you ask with two copies of the recommendation application, so that they have an extra for second drafts. You should also give them a copy of your resume or a list of your extracurricular activities and strengths – so that they may be detailed in their recommendation. Lastly, you may want to give each person a brochure or other information about the schools you are applying to; this will allow them to tailor their letter to meet the needs of the institutions.
How Do I Submit Letters of Recommendation for College to the School?
This is actually a very significant point when it comes to letters of recommendation for colleges. Typically, it is not you — the student — who submits your letters of recommendation. It is the teacher, guidance counselor, or other people you’ve asked, who typically send the letters of recommendation for college directly to the institution. Nowadays, the letters are almost always submitted electronically or through whatever platform the college admissions office uses for their college application. Make sure to provide your recommender with the method of submitting their college recommendation letter, whether it’s an email address or a place on the college admissions website.
The Bottom Line on Letters of Recommendation for College
Getting a college letter of recommendation may be stressful for some students, but just remember that whoever you ask, it is likely they’ve been asked to do this before. Focus your efforts on identifying the best people to ask for letters of recommendation for colleges, providing them with the relevant information they’ll need, and making sure you ask in a timely fashion — don’t make your recommenders have to rush to write your college recommendation letter. Most teachers, and naturally the ones you have made an impact on, are more than welcome to write you a letter of recommendation for college.