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Tips on Getting the Best Recommendations for College Applications

1. Ask your teachers early.

In the fall of your senior year, your teachers will be flooded with rec requests from your classmates. Get ahead of the rush by asking your teachers in the spring of your junior year. They’ll appreciate having the entire summer to write you a recommendation.


2. Decide which of your teachers – past or present – will represent you in the best light.

Are there certain teachers who have made it clear that they think highly of you? Don’t limit yourself to classes in which you excelled. Someone who taught you in a particularly challenging class and saw your commitment to improvement might write you an even more compelling recommendation than a teacher who saw you begin and end with a solid A. Also consider teachers who have seen you in areas outside the classroom.


3. Only send out a supplementary recommendation if someone other than your teachers can provide unique and meaningful insight into your character.

While sending an extra recommendation from a drama teacher or hockey coach might help round out your character to an admissions committee, do not send an extra recommendation if the college to which you are applying specifically asks you not to do so. And don’t send more than one: it can make you look as if you’re compensating for a less-than-impressive application.


4. Ask your teachers in person.

Don’t send an email, and definitely don’t get your parents involved in requesting recommendations. The request should come from you personally.

5. Don’t expect an automatic “yes”.

Your teacher may have already committed to writing recommendations for others. That, or your teacher knows that he or she wouldn’t write you the best recommendation.


6. Provide your teachers with an outline of the kind of recommendation you are looking for.

Consider your application as a whole and the specific attributes you are trying to emphasize. Ask your teachers to write to these attributes if they can. Provide them with a rough outline of the points you would like them to cover. You are not “ordering” a specific recommendation, but helping your teachers focus on what you most wish to convey to the schools of your choice.


7. Write thank-you notes to the people who took the time to recommend you.

It’s just polite.


To find out more about our admissions counseling or college admissions counseling, call (800) 501-7737.

Top Test Prep’s tips for getting the best recommendations will hopefully help you when you apply to college. For more information on college admissions counseling, call (800) 501-7737.

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