The college admissions process may appear to be pretty daunting, but just remember, you are not alone! Your family, guidance counselors, the College Essay Whiz, and your teachers are all ready and eager to help.
Most colleges require or request teacher recommendations, and you will need to ask two or three teachers if they are willing to write those recommendations for you. Keep in mind that most teachers will be pleased and even honored to be asked to write a recommendation. They will take the responsibility very, very seriously. Be sure that you ask each teacher personally and privately: Do not ask by email or stick a note in their mailboxes. Find a time to ask the teacher face to face – after class, after school, or even during a scheduled appointment.
Try to ask teachers who know you pretty well, in whose class you did well or worked hard even if your grades were not extremely high. You should ask teachers from different subject areas: Don’t ask three math teachers, even if you are planning to major in math! Schools like to see some academic diversity, so try to ask a math teacher, English teacher, science teacher, etc. If you have a positive connection with a teacher through music, the student newspaper, or the soccer team, etc., you can ask that teacher to write a supplementary recommendation. Admissions officers will read one or two extra recommendations – Just don’t overload them with too many, or it will appear like overkill!
Once the teachers agree to write the letters, be sure to provide them with all of the required information and materials (See Senior Year Plan). However, your teachers are very busy people, and some teachers may be asked for dozens of letters. How can you be sure that they have remembered to send out the letters by the deadline without seeming like a pest?
Send the teachers a thank you note a few days before the first letter is due. It’s a great but polite reminder. Indicate that you will follow up when you hear from the schools and when you decide which school you will attend.
Here is a sample of a note that you might send. Feel free to add any appropriate specific information. Also, it is fine to write the note on nice stationery especially if you have good handwriting!
October 29, 2009
Dear Mr. Jones,
Thank you very much for writing my college recommendations! I appreciate the time and effort it took for you to fill out all the forms and write the letters. It has been a pleasure being your student, and I only hope that when I go to college, I will have teachers as inspiring as you are.
I will certainly keep you posted about my acceptances and, of course, the school that I decide to attend.