Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community polls, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

College Application- Letter of Recommendation

kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
edited August 2012 in College Admissions
Hi,

I have a few questions about the process of getting a letter of recommendation

1) For recommendations, I'm supposed to get one from the counselor. However, my counselor doesn't really know me... I've only spoken to him a few times regarding my courses. Since he'll already have my grades, should I just submit a list of my extracurricular activities and achievements to him? These letters aren't limited to just school teachers/ admins, right?

2) If you want to apply to say, ten different schools, do you have each of the teachers make ten copies? Please describe the process to me, since I really have no idea what's supposed to happen. I've looked around in the other threads, and there's something about a common app?

3) From what I understand, I'm supposed to prepare the envelopes for the teachers, is that all I have to give them? The format of the letter doesn't change no matter what college I apply to, correct?


Thanks for your help!
Post edited by kittykat9709 on
«1

Replies to: College Application- Letter of Recommendation

  • 89wahoo89wahoo Posts: 1,087Registered User Senior Member
    I can only really help with (1). The counselor gives context to your performance within your class. Rigor of load, etc.; teachers are expected to 'know' you better which is why they prefer junior year teachers to do your recommendations. Look at the common app preview ( which is only up for another day or two then goes away until August!) to see what it asks the various adults to comment on and you'll see what I mean. Here, I'm still a little confused as to whether the recommendations must be on the common app form or if they can be letters. My D is close to her counselor but she's leaving so she told D she wanted to write the rec last spring before school ended. Our HS apparently has the kids pick one teacher to do the rec. (D got that done too, although she thought she was just asking for the teacher to do it in the fall. Teacher asked for the addressed envelopes and did the letters right away!- which I guess answers (3). Anyway in addition to the teacher doing the 'real' rec, D had to pick three other teachers for mini- recs which went to the counselor. There were three other things the counselor asked for. One was a list of activities. One was a parent questionnaire which asked for a vignette which describes your child, two words to describe them, and anything you'd like included in the rec if you were doing it. Then D had to fill out her own form about what she thought she brought to the high school, which activity meant the most to her, etc. I guess she will do them all again in the fall thru senior English? Anyway you may want to think about some of those questions and look at the common app but wait until your counselor is back at school to see if you're going to have the same sorts of firms. I imagine you will and that should get them plenty of information.
  • kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
    89wahoo: Thank you for your help! However, I'm still confused as to what a common app form is. Is there a certain form you have to have? Is there a website for it?
  • MD MomMD Mom Posts: 6,728Registered User Senior Member
    There is a common application website and it usually opens August 1 or close to that date. Many schools use the common app and some have supplements to it. Some colleges have their own application. Much of your application can be submitted electronically.

    https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/default.aspx

    Every school handles this just a little differently.
  • kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
    @MD Mom: Thank you! So it's better to submit an application online? or to fill out a written one?
  • RedSevenRedSeven Posts: 1,665Registered User Senior Member
    It's more convenient for most people to do it online. If you want to do it on paper, it won't be held against you. But it's probably a waste of time.
  • MD MomMD Mom Posts: 6,728Registered User Senior Member
    If you have easy access to a computer, which you must because here you are on CC, the online applications are easier. You can write your essays, save them in word files and then cut and paste what you need in each of your applications. If you apply to several schools, you will find that there is some repetition. I recommend that you do essays without college names and save them. Then when you want to tailor them to a school, add the information you need and save it under a school specific name. That way, you do not send an essay to one school with another school's name in it.
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    Kittykat, are you a rising senior? If so, then somebody at your school has seriously under-informed you about how things work! And I'll help remedy that, and so will others on CC. But if you're an underclassman still, I don't want to seem rude, but I'm going to put less effort into it, because your high school should give you answers about this before you need to act.

    RE: counselor letter. Colleges are accustomed to getting not-very-informative letters from school counselors in large public schools. See this entry from MIT: Writing Recommendations | MIT Admissions.

    RE: activities, achievements, etc. My kids' school had a questionnaire that they asked students to complete early in senior year. It meant that all students were listing their academic awards, their extracurricular accomplishments, their community-service experiences, etc., in a more or less standard way. The guidance counselors and often teachers used these forms to help them write letters for students applying to college. Your hs may have something similar.

    RE: Common Application. Yes, there is a web site: www.commonapp.org. After you establish an account there--which you will do, because almost all colleges and universities accept the Common Application--you can invite both teachers and your guidance counselor to do their submissions online. Some teachers perfer to send their recommendations electronically, via the Common App. Some teachers still prefer to put them on paper and have them mailed. Let your teachers do whatever they prefer. If they're sending recommendations the old-fashioned way, on paper, then you need to give the teacher a stamped envelope for each college or university you're applying to. You put the mailing address for the undergraduate admissions office at the college on the envelope, and you put your own postage stamp in the top-right corner, and in the top-left corner, for the return address, you put the teacher's name and the address of the school. If you look at www.commonapp.org, I think this will become clearer to you.

    If your teachers are doing their recommendations on paper, they're going to write one letter, and send a copy of that one letter to each of the schools you apply to. And the schools won't feel put off by that. They know the teachers are busy, and they get this very thing all the time. Plus, if they were doing their letters online, it would still be the one letter, sent to each of the n colleges you're applying to.
  • kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
    @RedSeven: Thank you! So the components of both are the same, the online one is just more convenient?

    @MD Mom: So I would send the application and the letters of recommendation to the schools via internet? I just signed up for an account; the format for the letter of recommendation and everything that colleges require will be there also?

    @Sikorsky: I'm going to be a senior the upcoming school year. I don't know if my school assume the students all know that to do or that they just haven't talked to us about this yet, but I'm seriously clueless about this. I'm going to be the first person in my family to attend college in the US. Thank you so much for all the help!
  • kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
    Also, I'm applying for UT and on their website, there's a link to the Texas college application. Do I also fill that out and send colleges both the common app and the Texas one? Is this true for other states also?
  • MD MomMD Mom Posts: 6,728Registered User Senior Member
    You guidance office should explain some of this but it is great for you to get a jump on it.

    I think your letters of recommendation can be sent either electronically or by mail. Another helpful thing is to create a resume that you can give to the people who will write your recommendations and you can use to fill out your applications.

    Colleges either use the Common Application, the Common Application with supplemental materials, or their own application. There should be a list on the Common App site for the colleges that participate. Additionally, every college and university will have a website with an admissions tab that will tell you what to do.

    Here's what we did at our house. I bought a small file box with hanging folders. Each potential school got a file folder. On the front of the file folder, I taped a grid that included whether it was Common App, Common App w/ supplementary material, or the college's own application; SAT/ ACT scores sent/ required; essays required; counselor recommendation requested; letters of recommendation requested/sent; and anything elSe that might be needed for an application--like deadline dates. As each application was completed the grid boxes were checked off and dated. Anything received from the colleges went into the file. It worked very well for both of my kids.

    I think kids whose parents went to college here do have an advantage. But you have discoveredCC and some very helpful people frequent this site. Just continue to ask questions and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
  • kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
    @MD Mom: I asked a graduating senior from my school, and apparently the guidance office at my school doesn't tell you anything.

    I checked out the list of schools that are supported by the commonapp system, and a few of the schools I want to apply to aren't on their list.
    1) In that case, I should just go to that specific college's website and fill out those applications?
    2) I'm still a little bit confused about how written letter of recommendations work. Do I just ask the teacher to write me, (if I'm applying to 7 schools), my letter and make seven copies? If I don't know what colleges I'm applying to yet, do I just give them the envelopes and have them give them back to me so I can send it to wherever I decide to apply?
    3) Also, I'm enrolled in a dual credit course at the University of Houston. Is it ok if I got a recommendation from my teacher there? or does the teacher have to be from my high school?

    Thanks for the folder idea! I'd probably do that too so I can stay organized!
    I'm very grateful for all the advice I've been getting on CC (:.

    Thank you!
  • csdadcsdad Posts: 1,938Registered User Senior Member
    "Sikorsky"...I run a guidance office & our GC's go into Juniors classrooms at least twice a year with info on college applications, in addition to letters home with info, a college admissions work shop at night, etc. however we get all kinds of panic calls over the summer & fall from parents who maintain that neither their child, not themselves were given no guidance on the college process. Working with parents & teens for 27 years, I can tell you that many don't listen until it directly pertains to them at that moment.
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    I taught middle school and high school for a dozen years, and I get what you are saying.

    On the other hand, because the OP came here to get information she should already have. I infer from her presence on CC that she probably isn't disaffected or unmotivated. Which means, whether they tried like hell or not, the guidance department at her school was not effective in getting her the information she ought to have.

    I know that with the information available to us, we can't answer this question, but I wonder whether the guidance department defined its mission as "hold some programs for students, and a parents' night," or as "make sure our rising seniors and their families have the information they need for successful placement after high school." And if it was the latter, did they have a way of measuring their success?

    Sent from my DROIDX using CC
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    1) [If schools I am applying to don't use the Common App], I should just go to that specific college's website and fill out those applications?

    Pretty much. And what a pain!
    2) I'm still a little bit confused about how written letter of recommendations work. Do I just ask the teacher to write me, (if I'm applying to 7 schools), my letter and make seven copies? If I don't know what colleges I'm applying to yet, do I just give them the envelopes and have them give them back to me so I can send it to wherever I decide to apply?

    If your teachers are doing their recommendations on paper instead of online, yes, you ask them for a recommendation. They will copy that recommendation the appropriate number of times.

    You provide the teacher with a single copy of the Teacher Recommendation Form from the Common App., with your information already completed, and a copy of the Teacher Recommendation Form for any college or university where you're using the institution's own application instead of the Common App. And you provide the teacher with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope for each college or university.

    This means it's not practical to do this step until you've decided where to apply. But you can still ask teachers whether they would be willing to write you a college recommendation before your list is set. And you should ask A.S.A.P. Like, the first week of school, if you don't know how to reach them during the summer.
    3) Also, I'm enrolled in a dual credit course at the University of Houston. Is it ok if I got a recommendation from my teacher there? or does the teacher have to be from my high school?

    Colleges want a teacher who knows you well, and can talk about your ability as a student, your character, your reliability, and the likelihood that you will succeed in college. If your teacher from U. of Houston can do that, that should be OK. Often, however, high school teachers know their students better than college teachers do, simply because you spend more time in the classrooms of your high school teachers.
  • kittykat9709kittykat9709 Posts: 46Registered User Junior Member
    @csdad: I know what you're implying right now... but since you don't know my school or how they're running things, I don't think you should assume that I'm the one who's not keeping up with all the college stuff. I've never missed a day of junior year and unless I was away at the restroom at the time counselors came in to talk about college or something, I'm positively sure that they never came in at all to talk about any of this or handed out any information. Like I mentioned, my senior friends told me that they pretty much had to figure things out for themselves.
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.