Recommendation letters from teachers, counselors, employers or coaches are a necessary part of the application process for most colleges, and so of course it’s to a student’s benefit to get some really solid, impressive feedback to submit to schools.
Make sure your teen stands out to those admissions officers! Pass along these tips to enhance the quality of those letters for a more stellar application.
Put thought into who’s asked to write.
The best recommendation letters are positive and enthusiastic about the student. It goes without saying that the people your teen asks to compose a letter should be admirers of his personal and intellectual qualities. The writer should know your student very well.
Many colleges require at least two or three recommendation letters. Some will expect one of those to be written by a certain person, such as the guidance counselor at school, and others will have no such specifications. Make sure your teenager reviews each college’s website to learn exactly how many letters are expected, who must write them, and how to send them!
And remember that your teen should always ask for recommendation letters in person – never via email.
Request recommendation letters early.
Teachers and counselors receive dozens of requests from students to write recommendation letters each year. And most students wait until the end of junior year or early senior year to ask for them.
Your teen can get a jump start on the crowds by asking by winter/early spring of junior year for letters. This ensures that the writer’s focus will be solely on your teen and his accomplishments. And it will be less likely to be a rush job – just one in a line of many to churn out.
Help the writer to know what to include.
Composing letters of recommendation tends to be a chore for most writers. And since these folks work with so many students, it can be tough for them to remember specifics about your teen.
Letter writers will appreciate being given a template or bulleted list of qualities, skills and accomplishments your teen would like for them to highlight. Stories about experiences in the writer’s class or with the writer are helpful to include, too, and will further engage college admissions officials.
Including a piece of work that the letter writer is familiar with, such as a research paper or essay, would be a great reminder for them of the excellent of work your teen has done.
Send a thank you card.
It takes a lot of time, effort and thought to write recommendation letters for students. Your teen can show appreciation to the writer by sending a thank you card for agreeing to advocate for him and helping him to get into the college of his choice.
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