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Unsure of who to ask for my Letter of Recommendation

equationloverequationlover Registered User Posts: 967 Member
edited July 2018 in College Admissions
I’m applying as a CS/engineering major so my LOR for STEM is really important. Important thing: I got behind in my math and physics courses junior year due to falling behind because of ACT testing (eyes were tired, I’m legally blind.) I got three weeks behind in every class and it spiraled from there... ended up having to retake honors precalc and drop AP Physics 1.

I really am unsure of who to ask for my STEM LOR. I’ve narrowed it down to two teachers:

Chem teacher:
- had her for two years freshman n and junior year, honors physical science and regular chem (couldn’t take honors)
- Received an A in physical science and a A- in chemistry
- Knew a lot about my personal life, we talked about a lot of stuff and she really helped me with adult advice on things
- I don’t know what she thinks of me, but she’s definitely a person who knows I like to ask questions
- One thing that might be pretty important is she knows a lot about the medical circumstances that affected my school work in my junior year. Like I said I talked to her a lot, and she was really understanding so she might be able to speak of this in the LOR.
- Only disadvantage I can think of is she will definitely say I’m a disorganized person. I have a lot of trouble organizing stuff (visual impairment) so my comp books were always a mess
- We had a good relationship and I talked to her often
- Wrote me an LOR for a competitive mentorship program and I got in. I don’t know what she wrote, though.
- Offered and said she would love to do a mentorship placement with me this upcoming year for teaching if I decide to.
- I also was a really quiet kid, so I didn’t talk much in class.

Math teacher:
- Had her for three years, algebra 1, honors geometry, and intro to computer science.
- Received an A in all three classes (intro to CS though won’t carry much weight; already have extensive CS experience before the class)
- I know she thought highly of my mathematical ability based on report card comments
- However, I failed honors precalc (not her class) and she is aware of that. I received an A in the six week course of a year of content retaking it though. (Re: in first paragraph)
- She is not aware of the medical issues that went on my junior year, and I’m not sure how understanding she’ll be of it. This might wavier her option of my strong math skills.
- Knows about a lot of my extracurricular activities/achievements that are CS related
- We definitely didn’t talk very much to each other, and I was a shy student so I rarely participated in class.
- Not sure if this is going to help, but we have a lot in common, including interests in the same subjects, down to activities and even the clothes we wear; a lot of people make the comment we’re like twins
- Wrote me two LORs for CS awards that I won
- I think she likes me as a student.

I really am unsure of who to ask. :/ I thought it might help to get other opinions.

Replies to: Unsure of who to ask for my Letter of Recommendation

  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 7,679 Senior Member
    Ask both; you'll need 2.

    But ask that first week back. Letters were due in guidance before school ended in my school; requests went out in March.
  • equationloverequationlover Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    @bjkmom I already have an English teacher that offered to write my humanities rec, so I only need one more. Hence why I’m trying to choose.

    Yes, that’s the plan! Trying to figure it out now so I can ask right when school starts.
  • equationloverequationlover Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    Bump, school starts for me soon and I’m having trouble deciding.
  • equationloverequationlover Registered User Posts: 967 Member
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,862 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    I think having an honest conversation with both would be helpful. I would start with one. For me it would be teacher two in your description.

    Mention that you respect them as a really good teacher. Let them know that this recommendation will be very important for you and your aspirations. However it is a big request and there will be no hard feelings g if they think it’s best for you to seek out another option. Or if protocol allows summertime emails you could break the ice. But don’t overplay the compliments etc. just be honest and sincere. And brief.
  • equationloverequationlover Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    @privatebanker Thanks for the advice. My chemistry teacher doesn’t work at my school anymore but teaches somewhere nearby now. I actually reached out to her today over email in regards to college stuff and asked if I could meet with her (didn’t directly ask about letter of recommendation since I prefer to ask in person.)

    Planning on asking both of them about letter of recommendations in person as soon as I can. Both of them are on weird circumstances because one works at another school, and the other is expecting. That’s what I want to ask ideally as soon as school starts.

    Should I email my other teacher beforehand to see if I can set up an appointment to talk to her? What sorts of materials should I bring with me?
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,862 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    I would email for the appointment. It’s good manners.

    It would be appropriate to have a one-page resume.

    At a minimum it should include a few sentences (really brief) on your school goal/objective.

    Not where you want to go but why and what you want to achieve.

    Your gpa and sat and or act scores. Then your science and humanities listed with grades. No PE or art classes unless that is an ec of yours. List any ecs work or volunteering if you have been able to do so.

    Seriously one page.

    It’s probably not going to be the topic of the chat but it is also something they can reference after you leave.

    Perhaps a one sentence on particular success and or challenge you overcame for each year with your unique story. They may not want to ask and you should t assume they know your story.

    But excuses and medical history I would stay away from in general. Not that it wouldnt be woven in as part of your story on a college app. But excuses never come off well but victories do.

    I mean the resume and you can certainly add some victory each year despite or because of your visual disability.

    There are examples online of resumes for college interview etc.

    Good luck. You sound like a great kid and a super future ahead of you.
  • equationloverequationlover Registered User Posts: 967 Member
    @privatebanker Thanks for the helpful info. I have a resume with all my extracurriculars/awards but it is well over a page so I will have to find someway to make it shorter.

    To explain the situation regarding the precalculus grade, it’s better to talk about that in person? (So I still address it?) Especially for my math teacher who seems to regard that I have a good understanding of mathematical concepts; I don’t want her to think I failed because I got lazy/couldn’t understand it.

  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 3,862 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    I believe you said you passed the make up review section. Or you are retaking ?

    People, for the most part are very compassionate and want good things for our young people.

    I also know that if someone doesn’t have your disability it is hard to comprehend these matters.

    It’s hard to understand how bad it can for instance say severe back pain. That is until you’ve experienced it yourself.

    Having tired eyes is very outside of my understanding. I comprehend the issue and can empathize but living through it will never be the same.

    I would go with sincere and honest.

    With your visual disability it takes you much longer to complete all the same tasks in the same time as able sighted students.

    You do your best but sometimes you have been known to bite off more than you chew.

    But in each and every case (with a shortt example ready) you have not blamed anyone or the disability. You have picked yourself up off the floor and redoubled your effort to not only complete the task or class but excel.

    Something along those lines is what’s I hear in Your story.

    What do you think you would like to say or convey?
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