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 discussions, 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:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

How to ask for recommendations?


Replies to: How to ask for recommendations?

  • tetrisfantetrisfan Registered User Posts: 11,791 Senior Member
    So basically, the teacher could just write one rec, make the number of copies necessary, and just sign each copy?
  • worknprogressworknprogress Registered User Posts: 1,536 Senior Member
    My D was told to use 8 1/2 x 11 by guidance office but everything (transcripts, recommendations) from teachers and guidance went into the envelope. Don't forget, there is also a checklist for the person recommending you to fill out as well.

    There are no foolish questions with this process - it is far better to make sure you are organized and making it easy for the people helping you. I have worked with many high schools and I have seen the mountains of papers that pass through guidance offices. I am actually surprised that most of the time, the materials go to the right places. Stay organized!
  • DanAdmiss@Tufts[email protected] College Rep Posts: 1,067 Senior Member
    I would exercise caution about giving a resume (in the literal sense of that word) to a teacher when you ask them to write your recommendations.

    Your teachers want to be your advocates, but frequently, with so many recommendations to write, they get stumped about what they want to say. It's important to play a role in helping them remember what makes you a special student (and there have been some excellent suggestions on how to do that already), but giving a teacher a resume can have the reverse of your intended effect. Looking at your resume will only help them remember your grades and your extracurriculars, as opposed to your qualities as a person or as a student. This could lead your teachers to list off your grades or your extracurriculars rather than giving us a first-hand perspective on who you are. Those of us reading your applications already have lists of your extracurriculars and we already have your grades. A teacher rec that gives us info on your resume merely repeats what we already know.

    Try to find ways to encourage them to tell stories about you and the things you've done in or out of the classroom. A teacher telling us a story about you is much more likely to have authenticity and more likely to share something that is actually reflective of your skills, strengths, and characteristics.

    Remember, many schools look to your teacher recs specifically for information that cannot be captured in a resume.
  • HisGraceFillsMeHisGraceFillsMe Registered User Posts: 4,782 Senior Member
    Ask as far ahead in advance as you possibly can. And shy away from teachers who are extremely busy with something else. I originally asked my choir director for one, but the letter was needed during a time that we were extremely busy with trips and competitions. I never received the letter from him. Luckily I had a backup teacher (STRONGLY recommended) who gave me an amazing rec letter that I still have the original of.

    When my English class was doing our Professional Portfolio, part of the project was to type up a Request Letter for a rec. letter. Our teacher had us tell the requested exactly what we want in the letter: accomplishments, specific EC's, whatever.

    Also, we were told that as long as the signature is on the original, that we should NOT mail the original and only mail out photocopies.
  • spoonyjspoonyj Registered User Posts: 344 Member
    The teacher copies the actual letter of recommendation. The student copies the the rec cover sheet for the common app.
  • HisGraceFillsMeHisGraceFillsMe Registered User Posts: 4,782 Senior Member

    I have an actual rec. letter sitting about 2 feet away from me in a binder and it's the original. So maybe it just depends on your school.
  • Student615Student615 Registered User Posts: 1,885 Senior Member
    I've always just let teachers know that I'm happy to supply them with a resume, copies of my essays, or anything else that they might find helpful in writing their recs (some have taken me up on it, some haven't, but I like to put the option out there). I also generally say that if it would be helpful, I'm happy to meet and talk a little bit about my goals and interests. Whatever, just to make it clear that I'm open to their questions, I'm not just handing them an envelope and washing my hands of the situation.

    My high school told us that three weeks should be the minimum time between a request and a deadline, but obviously longer is better. Also, check in once or twice (depending on how long of a time span it is and what their response is after checking in once) to remind them about impending deadlines.

    Waive your right to see the recommendation. I'm told that colleges find it a little fishy when students haven't waived the right, but even if admissions officers don't care, it's polite.

    Nice thank you notes are all that's really necessary, but I also gave small gifts to my rec writers (good chocolate). It's just a judgment call...I happened to know my writers all really well and they'd also written a lot of different recs for me, not just school applications. Whatever you do, just make sure to show gratitude. I also think it's nice, though not mandatory, to let your writers know how to contact you in the future, should they be interested in knowing what you're doing (just your email or something...again, probably depends on how well you know them).

    If you have any weird circumstances (i.e. stuff that would require explanation or an addendum in your explanation), I'd suggest addressing this with your rec writers, either in a personal meeting or in an addendum to them (letting them know that they're free to ask you for further details/clarification).

    I've requested recs both in person and email. You don't need to worry about it...any teacher is used to the question (it can be a little more awkward with EC supervisors, coaches, etc. who may not have written them before, but you can broach the question similarly). I just stayed after class or went into office-hours or whatever and basically asked "Would you be willing to write me a recommendation for _____?" Sometimes I prefaced it with "I know it's a really busy time of year for everyone, so feel free to let me know if this won't be possible, but would you be willing to..."

    You'll be fine. Remember that it's a question teachers are totally used to :)
  • TalktoHerTonightTalktoHerTonight Registered User Posts: 173 Junior Member
    My teacher told us to get big manila envelopes with all the stamps and self-addressed envelopes, and copies of the Common App teacher's recs with maybe a professional letter saying that they wanted a letter of rec and also what they would *like* there to be in it (as a reminder to the teacher, not as a way to be pretentious or arrogant -- at least, I go to public school). And he said that presents never hurt anyone. ;)
  • CountingDownCountingDown Registered User Posts: 13,213 Senior Member
    DS1 is not planning on giving his resume to his recommending teachers. A cover letter about why he chose them and what he got out of their classes (reminding them of a couple course-related items in the process), yes, but not the big laundry list. As the Dean said, the rec is to fill out the picture of you, not to recite the same X awards.

    One of his recs is likely to talk about an activity where my S was NOT successful. His spontaneous reaction made quite an impression on her and left no doubt that this is in fact how he handles tough situations. I have seldom felt more proud of DS as I did when I heard about this incident.
  • benplanetbenplanet Registered User Posts: 23 New Member
    what if you graduated 3 years ago?? 3 of my favorite teachers are gone! lol
    how do i go about asking for recs??? I think gifts is starting to sound like a feasible solution!
  • Student615Student615 Registered User Posts: 1,885 Senior Member
    I think the gifts are more of a "thank you for doing this" (after the fact) and not a "please do this" (seems kind of bribe-y, however well-intentioned). But I suppose you could try and frame it otherwise...

    CountingDown -- Now you've really piqued my interest! Sounds like the type of letter that will really stand-out, though, and presumably say a lot about your son. Best of luck to him :)
  • scorpio08scorpio08 Registered User Posts: 777 Member
    What if we don't have any teachers that know us in depth because we switch teachers every year?
  • JJGJJG Registered User Posts: 370 Member
    I think it is pretty much expected you'd use teachers from your junior year.
  • TalktoHerTonightTalktoHerTonight Registered User Posts: 173 Junior Member
    QUESTION: I'm going to a large public university and in my 4 classes, 3 of them are by TA's. If I'm asking for recommendations as a transfer student, is it ok if I get recommendations from TAs rather than professors? I don't know how to deal with that. Are TA's considered profs in the same sense???
  • blondie888blondie888 Registered User Posts: 292 Junior Member
    Is it better to get a letter from a teacher that knows you well but haven't had you in class or from someone who has had you in class but doesn't know you well?
This discussion has been closed.