The college application season is full swing! With the Common App open now and early application deadlines on the horizon, now is the time to ask for letters of recommendation!

Are Letters of Recommendation Important?

College admissions officers look to recommendation letters to see what makes your student unique and to get to know them better, beyond the test scores, the GPA and other materials. Recommendation letters can provide insight into any special circumstances that may have impacted your student’s learning, as well as shed light on life experiences. Letters from school counselors and teachers can show your student within the context of their school community which is a very important component considered by college admissions officers. Recommendation letters are a crucial part of the college admissions process, as they provide valuable information about your student that cannot be found in other application materials. Admissions officers use these letters to gain a better understanding of your student’s character, personality, and potential for success in college. They are particularly interested in what makes your student unique and how they stand out from other applicants.

They also provide context for any special circumstances that may have impacted your student’s academic performance, such as illness or family issues. This information can help admissions officers make more informed decisions about your student’s application.

Letters of Recommendation Tips

Who to Ask?

Recommenders are counselors, teachers, coaches, or employers, who have worked with your student and supported them at school and in extracurricular activities. It is very important to request recommendation letters from people that know your student very well. Students should ask recent teachers for recommendations, those who taught them from 11th grade on and ideally from a core subject (English, math, science, social studies).

When to Ask?

Start asking now! It’s best to ask in person. Students should give at least 3 weeks advance notice, at the minimum, of the deadlines. Students need to be respectful of recommenders’ time, the more advance notice given, the more well crafted the letter will be.

What to Ask?

Complete a brag sheet or questionnaire to help the recommenders with key information. This information will give them more insight about your student and their interests, outside of school as well. The more specific the details, the more personal and effective the letter will be!

How to Ask?

Ask them in person! This shows respect and thoughtfulness. Don’t forget to thank the teacher/counselor for writing the letter! They are doing this on their own time so a respectful thank you is appropriate.

Letters from school counselors and teachers are especially important, as they can provide insight into your student’s academic abilities, work habits, and potential for success in college-level coursework. These letters can also show how your student fits within the context of their school community, which is an important consideration for admissions officers. Overall, recommendation letters are a valuable tool for helping your student stand out in the competitive college admissions process.

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