The official first day of summer is next month and we imagine many of you are excited for lazy days by the pool, special summer camps, or sleeping in. But until then, let’s make the most of this school year. CAA suggests that juniors ask their teachers to write a recommendation letter over the summer. Recommendation letters can be the “golden ticket” of your application, much like the admissions essay (but that’s another blog). They can be the difference between acceptance and rejection. So, who do you ask? How should you ask them? And how many will the colleges require? Let’s begin with the last question. How many do you need? Many colleges want at least one recommendation letter. Some may ask for two or three. Once you have created a Final List of colleges, CAA recommends you review the application requirements for details (e.g. how many, from whom, etc.). Some colleges want recommenders to use a special form, which can be found on the college’s website. But, who should you ask? Most colleges want at least one from a teacher. CAA suggests that you ask at least two teachers and someone else who knows you outside of academia such as your employer, coach, clergyperson, or volunteer supervisor. This way you are sure to cover all your bases. The teachers you choose should admire and respect your work. At least one should have taught a core subject, preferably in an area you’ll be focusing on in college. How do you ask them? Simply put, just ask. There is no right or wrong way and it’s something they expect. You can get creative with your request or just write a simple letter acknowledging why you want them to write a recommendation for you (flattery gets you everywhere). Here is a suggested list of things you can provide to help them write a great letter for you: Forms the college requires
- Your Final List of colleges with application deadlines
- Your resume of accomplishments
- Your intended major/career and future goals
- Your admission essays
- A stamped #10 envelope addressed to each college you are applying to, if mailing
- A copy of your transcript
The colleges will ask if you want to waive your right to read any letters they receive. CAA suggests you do this. The college knows that teachers are less likely to write the full truth if they know you can read them, which makes the letter less helpful in the evaluation of your application. We know you have nothing to hide and waiving your right proves this. Finally, send a thank-you letter to each recommender, and remember it is your job to make sure each letter arrives on time at your colleges. As always, CAA clients are welcome to contact us with any questions. Enjoy your summer!