Letters of Recommendation

Many colleges require two teacher recommendations and one counselor recommendation. This is a great opportunity to share your resume and any plans for a major in college, if you have one.

Who do
I ask?

Many colleges require two teacher recommendations and one counselor recommendation. Ideally, choose two core subject teachers from your junior year—they are the ones who taught you most recently for an entire school year. Core subjects include math, science, English, social studies, and foreign language. You do not necessarily have to ask a teacher in whose class you got an A. Classes where you struggled but persevered, or where you overcame an obstacle, or where you contributed to spirited class discussions—those teachers can write a great recommendation. The teacher will talk about the kind of student you are and what you bring to the classroom experience.

 

You will also need a counselor recommendation. Midtown's counselors are assigned according to last name. If you don’t know your counselor personally, don’t worry. Colleges understand that at most high schools, counselors are responsible for hundreds of students and can’t know them all. Still, counselors can look at your record and write a recommendation in which they talk about your performance in the context of the school as a whole.

When do
I ask?

Ask early! The sooner the better! Now is better than next week. But at the very least, you should allow teachers three weeks to write a recommendation letter.

What do
I say?

Approach the teacher (in person or via email) and ask if they could write you a good recommendation letter. This will allow them to say no if they can’t. If they agree, and they usually will, provide them with three things:

  1. a resume of your high school activities, and

  2. a personal note letting them know what you’d like them to include, such as a particularly meaningful class discussion, the fact that you pulled your grade up, or a certain project, paper, or assignment that you feel really shows your growth and potential. If the teacher also knows you through a club or other extracurricular activity, be sure to remind them about this as well.

  3. Tell them clearly your application deadline.

Do I Waive My Right to Read it?

Yes. If you don’t, the college will wonder why you don’t trust the recommender.

Do I
Follow Up?

Yes! If the deadline is getting near and the teacher hasn’t yet completed the recommendation, it is fine to politely remind them of the deadline.

Do I Thank them?

Absolutely! This is a lot of work, and they will appreciate a thank you note or email.