College Letters of Recommendation: A Few Tips and Tricks

College+is+exciting%21+Getting+your+letters+of+recommendation+squared+away+is+a+crucial+step+before+you+can+spend+the+next+four+years+on+a+beautiful+campus+like+this%21
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College Letters of Recommendation: A Few Tips and Tricks

College is exciting! Getting your letters of recommendation squared away is a crucial step before you can spend the next four years on a beautiful campus like this!

College is exciting! Getting your letters of recommendation squared away is a crucial step before you can spend the next four years on a beautiful campus like this!

Susquehanna University

College is exciting! Getting your letters of recommendation squared away is a crucial step before you can spend the next four years on a beautiful campus like this!

Susquehanna University

Susquehanna University

College is exciting! Getting your letters of recommendation squared away is a crucial step before you can spend the next four years on a beautiful campus like this!

Kate Carango, Staff Reporter

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As May wraps up and this school year comes to a close, everybody looks forward to a relaxing summer. As a junior last year, I certainly looked forward to my well deserved break before the whirlwind of senior year. However, before taking a summer off, there are a few college tasks to take care of before senior year. Your English classes help guide you through the process of writing a college essay, and your guidance counselor has probably already talked to you about where you want to apply, but now you have to decide which teachers you will ask to write your college letters of recommendation. Picking and asking teachers can be stressful, so here are a few tips on the proper etiquette and some pointers on how to make your selections.

Selecting the right teachers varies from person to person depending on your interests and intended major. However, these are a few general guidelines to help in making that selection. First of all, try to pick teachers that know you well in subjects where you generally thrive, or in classes that pushed you. Your junior year teachers are the best option, because they had you in class most recently. If possible, I recommend also asking a teacher that teaches a subject loosely corresponding to your intended college major. For example, I plan to major in biology, so I asked my eleventh grade Physics teacher to write me a recommendation because I hadn’t taken Biology since freshman year. If you are entering college with an undecided or undeclared major, you can just pick a teacher from your favorite subject.

When the time comes to actually ask your teachers, there are some general guidelines to follow. Make sure you have a printed copy of your activities resume with every activity you participated in and every achievement you earned in high school to give to your teacher. Naviance has an easy resume template under the “About Me” tab where you can enter any type of information and then choose a template before printing. With a full list of any activities you have been involved in, your teachers can write a recommendation that reflects you as a whole and includes information about your life outside of his or her classroom. Also, be sure to ask your teachers in person and in private. Teachers do not have to agree to write a recommendation for you, and if they do say no, it would be better if it wasn’t in front of the whole class.

The best course of action is to ask your teachers if they are willing to write a recommendation for you at the end of your junior year. Even though your teachers most likely won’t write it over the summer, they still have time to prepare to write it when the school year begins again. At the beginning of senior year once you have decided where to apply, politely remind your teachers that you asked them to write a recommendation.

Even though I have had the experience of asking teachers for letters of recommendation, I have never written any letters myself. So here are a few extra tips from Mr. Daulerio, a senior English teacher here at West who has some experience writing letters of recommendation.

“Don’t request a teacher to write you a recommendation on Naviance before asking them in person.” Make sure to get comfortable navigating Naviance, because a lot of the college application process happens on Naviance, including letters of recommendation.  Also, as a courtesy to the teacher, ask them in person for a recommendation letter; do not expect only the Naviance request to be honored!

“Be sure to have your Naviance set up correctly before asking a teacher to submit a letter for you.” A teacher can only send a letter to a college if you have your Naviance account linked with the colleges you are applying to, so make sure you get everything squared away as soon as possible.

“Give lots of notice.” Writing a letter of recommendation takes time, and teachers still have to run their regular classes on top of that. So, since these teachers are doing you a favor, be sure to give them plenty of time because colleges are very serious about their deadlines.

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College Letters of Recommendation: A Few Tips and Tricks