One of the main components of your college applications are the letters of recommendation you get from your high school teachers. It can often be difficult for students to know which teachers they should ask and how they should do the asking. For great advice on choosing the right teachers, how to ask them to write you a letter, and saying thank you watch today’s VLOG!
Hi! Welcome to another edition of the CollegeMapper Vlog. Today we’re talking about recommendation letters. It’s fall, so, Seniors are busy asking teachers to write their recommendation letters. A question that I get really often is, “Who should I ask for these letters?” So, Seniors, we’ll talk to you first then we’ll talk to Juniors. The short answer is you want the person who knows you the best, like you the most and has seen you work really hard, but you have to choose core subject teachers, preferably from Junior year. You want an English or a History teacher; and a Math or a Science teacher, ideally. World Language teachers can count in place of English or History. I would not recommend using a coach or a P.E. teacher or a ceramics teacher, someone from your community, or a club advisor. You really want core subject teachers.
The main thing that you want them to be talking about in those recommendation letters is how you participated in class and what you contributed to the class discussions. So we want those letters to be academic in nature, not talking about you as a baseball star or you as an amazing artist–unless you’re going to be an art major and that’s a little bit different. You could have your band teacher write a letter if you’re declaring music as a major, so that is also a little bit different.
So, Seniors, you want to ask now, it’s October, almost October. They might want a copy of your academic resume, they would certainly like to see your college list, and I think the most important thing they would like is to be thanked. I was an English teacher for 10 years and I wrote these letters. Teachers are not paid to write these letters. They do it out of the kindness of their heart on Friday and Saturday nights. No joke. So, a couple weeks after you ask the teachers for the letters please, please, please go back and say thank you and give them a little thank you note, handwritten. If you would like to give any kind of small gift that is a fabulous gesture because they’re really not getting anything back for doing this crazy, important work for you.
Juniors, let’s talk really quickly. You should be focusing on recommendation letters during Junior year by participating in class. You should be sort of secretly targeting a couple teachers in your mind. You should be thinking, “Oh, I really like my English teacher and I love English and I want to major in English so I’m going to do so well in English class and get this amazing recommendation letter!” Also, be on your absolute best behavior Junior year because everything counts in your professional image for a recommendation letter. You don’t need to ask anybody Junior year; there’s nothing you need to do Junior year besides be a little angel. You’ll ask the teachers next May.
That’s pretty much everything I can think to tell you about recommendation letters so, thanks for tuning in! Yay, college!