1) Teacher selection process
- Many colleges ask you to submit one or two letters of recommendation from teachers. Prioritize your top and your second choices as you will have to rank them on the common application.
- Colleges prefer teachers who have known you most recently-ideally an 11th grade teacher or a teacher who has had you more than once.
- They want teachers from core area-English, Social Studies, Science, Math and Foreign Language. Special schools will want extra letters from arts teachers.
- Choose teachers who know you the best in terms of academic work, intellectual potential, and class participation. Also choose teachers who are known to write great letters and submit all materials on time.
- ASK TEACHERS AS SOON AS YOU CAN SENIOR YEAR!!! You can even ask the end of junior year and track any junior teachers who leave the school.
2) College Counselor selection process
- Many colleges want a high school counselor to write a letter.
- Find out how your school assigns the counselor who writes this letter.
- Once you determine this counselor, go speak with him or her as often as possible.
- Develop a list of your colleges, recommendation requirements, and deadlines.
- Ask your school and teachers their requirements for recommendations.
- Give teachers and counselors at least one month to write letters.
- Remind them a week before and/or before the Christmas holidays.
4) Brag Sheets and other materials to give teachers and counselors
- Submit a cover letter with your list of colleges and deadlines thanking the teachers and counselors in advance for agreeing to write the recommendations.
- Fill out any brag sheet teachers or counselors ask you to complete with great focus and many details as many counselors will not know you that well.
- Use this opportunity to also mention any qualities, details, class remembrances or pertinent facts that need to be included in the letter or letters.
- Provide everyone with a copy of your résumé. Mention in your letter that this copy is strictly for their usage and should not be mailed with the letter of recommendation.
5) Submission Types
- Some colleges want you to submit all your paperwork online and some still use paper versions.
- Some of your teachers and counselors may be stubborn about submitting online so you may have to find paper versions. But really encourage them to do them online. It is so much easier as you only need to enter their email addresses and teachers submit everything online.
- Pros of online submissions-Teachers and counselors only write one letter.
- Cons of online submissions-Teachers and counselors only write one letter which means that they do not tailor it for different colleges.
6) Online Submission Process
- All schools on the common application accept online teacher letters.
- You need to enter your teachers’ and counselors email addresses so find out the ones that they will check regularly.
- Make sure your teachers and counselors receive the email request from the common application.
- If your school uses Naviance, sign the waiver to allow everyone to submit the forms.
- You can check on the common application and on many college websites when letters are submitted.
7) Paper Submissions
- Submit your list of colleges and all due dates.
- Include your cover letters and supporting materials.
- Provide the teacher with the necessary form and instructions attached to your letter. Be sure to fill-out all information listed on the form that the student is required to complete. If the school provides no form, mention to the teacher in the letter that no specific form is used and to please create his or her own recommendation.
- Provide a stamped and addressed envelope for each college. Put the school’s address as your return address.
- Provide a self-addressed, stamped postcard that you insert into the college envelope that you have provided for the teacher. The postcard says, “Dear (Your Name), (Name of College) has received your recommendation from (Name of Teacher).” The college will know to send you the postcard as soon as the recommendation arrives.
8) Additional Letters
- Select extra letters very carefully. Do not overwhelm a school.
- Select a person who knows your leadership and initiative and covers an area you feel your application does not cover fully. They should know you personally.
- Some schools state they will take extra letters. Dartmouth takes a peer letter. Stanford takes one extra letter. Arts supplements take extra letters.
9) Little Extras
- Give your teachers and counselors a thank you note and perhaps a gift card to Starbucks, iTunes, or Amazon.