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Most colleges require two recommendation letters – One from a teacher and one from a counselor. Quality is always better than quantity.

Ask your teachers for letters of recommendation before everyone else does by starting early.

Believe it or not, your high school teachers, counselors, principals, and coaches are pretty busy people. On top of the papers that need to be graded and the parents that need calmed, these members of the school community also have to write letters of recommendation for students like you.

And those letters add up.

Many students – the majority really – wait until the last minute to contact their recommendation writers. And when 50 students ask one teacher for a recommendation, this teacher is bound to get overwhelmed. You want to be at the top of their list.

Catch your recommendation writers now and let them know you would appreciate a letter of recommendation, before they get a ton of requests next fall.

Who should you ask for your college letter of recommendation?

  • Think about teachers who will have positive things to say about you and your work ethic, and who have recent experience with your skills. Keep in mind that a letter from Mr. Hernandez’s who teaches AP Chemistry will look much better than a letter from Mrs. Campbell who taught your freshman English class.
  • Coaches, principals, employers, community leaders, and adults who know you well outside of the classroom also make strong recommendation candidates.

How should you ask for a letter of recommendation?

  • Approach your writers face-to-face and ask them if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation. Remember, they aren’t required to do this for you, so always be cordial. And a personal visit, as opposed to a phone call or email, shows how important it is to you.
  • If they say yes, tell them you will provide a list of colleges and some general outlines in the fall, once you have whittled down your college list.
  • If they say no, it’s no big deal. It happens. Teachers are busy, and it’s better for him to deny your request now than write an unconvincing letter of semi-recommendation.
  • Once you have your writers, update your college calendar. You will be requesting these letters of recommendations in the middle of next fall.


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