Asking for a Letter of Recommendation
The college application process is made up of choices: where to apply, where to visit, what to include in your application, but one of the most important choices that you’ll make during this time is which teachers you will ask for your letters of recommendation. These letters are going to showcase your best qualities to the schools you apply to, and finding the teachers that know you best and can convey those qualities to the admissions office is absolutely crucial. With that being said, asking for a letter of recommendation is a delicate process, and it’s important that you go about it in the right way.
First of all, make sure you are picking the teachers that know you best and can showcase a variety of good qualities. You have multiple different strengths that make you stand out, you want all of those strengths to be on display in your letters. A band director or soccer coach has seen a different side of you than an algebra teacher, and you want the schools to which you apply to know about all of those sides.
Once you have chosen the teachers you want to write your letters, find a chance to ask them face to face if they would be willing to do it. If your relationship with them is positive and respectful, then odds are they will be more than willing, maybe even flattered that you asked them for it. Now, make sure you that you ask them well in advance of your deadlines. A rushed letter will only hurt your chances of admission, so give your teachers at least a month of notice to allow them to write the best letter they can. If possible, ask them at the end of your junior year so that they have an entire summer to write and rewrite their letter so that it is a perfect reflection of you.
Finally, make sure you follow up on your request as your deadlines approach. Your teachers will without a doubt have their own distinct writing process, and you should certainly be respectful of that (especially considering they are writing these letters out of the kindness of their heart), but you also need to make sure you actually get the letters you asked for. Send a quick, polite email or drop by their classrooms to remind them that you need the letters as soon as they can get them to you. Your future actually does depend on it.
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