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Frequently Asked Questions about Letters of Recommendation

Almost every college and university requires you to submit at least one recommendation letter.  College admissions take these letters very seriously, so it in your best interest to secure great letters of recommendation from people who know you very well.

How many recommendations do I need to send to the college?

Generally, most colleges want to receive one letter of recommendation from your school counselor and one from a teacher.  In some cases, it wouldn’t hurt to send a letter from some other non-related adult who has played a significant role in your life, such as a coach or a youth group leader.

What if my teacher turns down my request for a letter of recommendation?

You should consider very carefully whom you plan to ask for a letter of recommendation. Most teachers won’t write letters for students they don’t know very well or for students they themselves don’t feel warrants their support.

Does status or job type matter when considering who to ask for letters of recommendation?

If your dad is buddy buddy with some state senator or the VP of Goldman Sachs, don’t automatically assume they are good choices to write you a letter of recommendation.  Not unless they know you very well and can include something new or different for the admissions board that is not otherwise mentioned in your application.  The admissions board is first and foremost looking to know about your academic achievements and work ethic, not who your father plays golf with.

How can I thank the writers of my letters?

Most of the writers, whether they be a teacher or a coach, probably aren’t expecting some lavish gift for having written your letter of recommendation.  A simple thank you note should suffice, in addition to keeping them updated with where you have been accepted.  The writer of the letter is probably just as glad to hear you were accepted to a certain college, partly because of their recommendation later.

For more information on college admissions tips, contact Dov Landau, Director of College Admissions at Top Test Prep. Top Test prep is the elite one on one tutoring and admissions company featuring some of the best and brightest tutors and admission experts in the business.   Dov can be reached at 202-618-4474.


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