Thursday, October 12, 2017
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I am finalizing my college application and I need to ask for teacher recommendations. Who should I ask?
Choose a teacher who appreciates your abilities to write your recommendation
Be aware of the fact that colleges take admissions deadlines very seriously. You have missed the early action and early decision deadlines, so you need to make sure that you meet all of the requirements for regular decision admission which is approaching rapidly.
Since teachers and counselors are busy this time of year, I always suggest asking for recommendations at least a month in advance. You should check with your school counselor to see if there are school policies that put limitations on student requests for recommendations and make sure that you meet all timing deadlines.
Depending on the application being used the process varies. Typically, the application services used by colleges are: The Common Application, The Coalition Application, The Universal Application and The Naviance Application. If your school uses Naviance, the counselor’s office typically takes care of recommendations. Some individual colleges may require that you apply directly online.
Regardless of which service you use, I recommend compiling a resume of your academic and extracurricular activities. You may also want to add a letter noting an anecdotal story that will embellish your application content. By doing this, you can be sure that your application will differentiate you in some meaningful way from the thousands that admissions offices receive.
Remember that even if all of the colleges you are applying to accept the Common Application their specific entrance requirements may not be the same! For example, does your target school require certain SAT Subject Tests? You need to gather this information so you can plan your testing schedule.
Now to answer your question of who you should ask for a recommendation.
I highly recommend that you ask a teacher who really appreciates you and your abilities. Don’t expect just any teacher that gave you an “A” in class to speak glowingly of you.
The Harvard Crimson recently reported the case of a student who was almost rejected from Harvard because of a teacher referencing her “small-town insecurity.” The teacher’s recommendation “raised red flags about her personal qualities, her ability to interact with others, and her ‘brightness.’”
Ask for an opportunity to meet with the teacher or counselor that you choose to recommend you and go over your resume of achievements. It is a great way to inspire their thoughts when they write your letter.
If you are active in community or school projects outside of the classroom, let them know about the scope of your involvement and your excitement about that activity.
I cannot stress enough the fact that you need to be mindful of your social media accounts and how they may contradict your otherwise pristine background. This is something that has become increasingly important because colleges are not only looking for someone with good grades but someone of high character.
Tags: Colleges and Universities SAT Preparation
Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.
Colleges and Universities, College Consulting, International Students
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