I don’t know any of my teachers well. I’m pretty shy and I don’t participate much in class or ask questions. I don’t think that I’ll be able to get good recommendations from any of them, and I might have a better chance at colleges that don’t require them at all. Are there any top colleges that don’t ask for teacher recommendations?
Top colleges? No.
There are top public universities that don’t require (or even accept) recommendations. UW-Seattle and UCLA, to name two examples I’m sure of off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are many. How “top” did you have in mind?
The caveat is that these may be exactly the kind of schools that are hard to get the most out of without taking initiative and putting yourself on radar once you are there. So it’s worth thinking through what support you might seek out for your shyness/social anxiety, that will enable you to get the most out of college.
The kind of “top” I had in mind was pretty much any school with a low acceptance rate and is viewed as a good school, like UCLA.
What kinds of schools are good for someone who is shy?
Cal Poly, if you are in CA.
Your teachers have written letters of recommendation for lots of shy students. They will be happy to write good letters for you provided you just ask them. Pull yourself together. Talk with your teachers. Let them know about your college list, and about your concerns about being a good applicant given how shy you are. Trust that they will be able to write good leters for you.
Talk with your teachers – write up a mini resume of things you do outside of class so they can get to know you better. If you do well in their classes they will write decent recommendations, don’t worry.
I would say that what kind of school is good depends upon your interests and your learning style. For some shy people, a more project-based environment would be perfect, because it would allow them to get to know others around shared interests and pursuits. For others, a school with small classes and professors who will learn your name would be an ideal way to find mentors who will encourage your growth. For some young women, a women’s college would provide the best platform for learning to “putting themselves out there” more. It all depends. What are you hoping to study in college?
I agree that while asking for recommendations sounds terrifying, you’re probably in better shape than you think you are. Start the conversation with an email, if that’s easier than approaching your teachers face to face.
I’m considering studying either psychology, child development, education, sociology, or something else along those lines.
Is it okay to ask for recommendations over email or is that rude? All of my teachers know how shy I am but I just don’t want to seem careless or impersonal.
Are you a rising senior? You won’t become a chatterbox (nor should you) but can you put on your bravest face next fall (with a couple of the teachers/classes you feel the most confident with) and make an effort to participate more? Even a small change could make a difference. Maybe if you can’t bring yourself to do it while in class, you could ask questions or show interest in some way after class, or communicate via e-mail. Failing that, put some extra effort into projects for those classes (whether research, papers, experiments, websites, something creative, etc ) and go the extra mile in a way the teacher can’t miss. If you are a diligent student, the teacher will note that, and be happy to write you a recommendation. Most teachers do want their students to do well, I think.
I am a rising senior. I’m going to try to participate more next year, but I thought my recommendations had to be from my junior year teachers?
Not necessarily. My daughter had a rec from a sophomore teacher who knew her well outside of class as well from ECs.
Berkeley, UCLA (and the other UCs…), Michigan, Wisconsin, UNC, UVA, W&M, GA Tech, Washington, Illinois, Texas, other flagships – there are plenty of world-renowned universities that do not require a LOR.
It was mentioned that if you are not outgoing, a big school that requires you to be outgoing to take advantage of academic and career support might not be best for you. I would posit that, balancing this concern, with such a diverse and numerous student body, a mid- to large-sized public would give you a good chance to find friends with similar personality and interests.
If you are a CA resident, there are multiple excellent public schools from which to choose.
But if you would rather be at a private school, as was also said, you would likely be able to find teachers and GC who would write you a glowing LOR. Being shy is ok; if you are good to people, a good student, conscientious (etc. - virtuous), most people will like you. Because, I think, most of us value the Golden Rule and hard work/perseverance, and will view favorably anyone who follows these positive principles.
To break the ice and make your in person convers less stressful for you.
I would suggest an email over the summer to a few of your favorite teachers. Short and sweet. Less is more. Your hope is lower that weirdness factor when asking cold.
The goal of the email is:
- to let them know you are starting the college process
-you really valued their expertise as an educator
—you were hoping to schedule some time on their calendar.
-you would like to get their insight and thoughts around the career paths you are considering like education, child’s development etc (which is right up their alley BTW) -you would like to learn what their requirements or expectations for students who request a LOR
End with. A great Wish them well. Hoe you look forward to September please let me know if you would like to discuss. My telephone number is 334-3334
^^ What @privatebanker said.
I would add that most teachers would prefer the heads-up over the summer to being approached cold at the beginning of the year when they are super-busy.
You have lots and lots of college options, for the social sciences. As far as the education/child development field, do you see yourself doing the more extroverted aspects of that, like student teaching? Do you have a comfort level with younger children that you don’t have with your peers and teachers? Psychology-wise, are you interested in the prospect of 1:1 clinical practice as a psychologist or social worker or etc., or are you more interested in theory and research in the social sciences?
What do you do outside of classes, in high school? Are there particular activities or settings where you find it easiest to make friends? Because you can certainly look for college communities where those activities and settings are well-represented.
I’m a lot more comfortable with kids than I am with teens and adults, so I can see myself as a teacher despite my shyness. For psychology, I’m interested in a 1:1 practice.
Outside of classes, I’m on my school’s cheer team, ironically. I don’t participate in anything else in school.
Those of us who write letters every year have written lots of letters for kids like you. Don’t worry about it; we’ve traveled this road before.
Your teacher will ask for a 'brag sheet" of sorts, with info to help them craft a more complete letter. That can help a lot, since it can give them the info that less shy kids would have already given them.
Being shy will NOT stand between you and college.
Come up with teachers in classes where you did well. Relax and leave the rest up to the teachers.
Have you done any cheer coaching with kids? That seems like it would be a natural step for you.
It’s hard to know what would be match/reach/safety schools for you without stats (and financial and geographical constraints as well), but as an overall trend it is less common for the very most elite schools to have some of the more practical undergraduate majors like early childhood and elementary education. (There are exceptions, like Vanderbilt for example.) But I wonder if you would like a program like Clark University’s that blends education with sociology https://www.clarku.edu/programs/major-or-minor-community-youth-and-education-studies-cyes . Clark is also particularly know for its psychology programs, so it could be a good place to explore both possibilities. https://www.clarku.edu/programs/major-psychology There’s also a course sequence specifically in school psychology, for psych majors who are interested in that aspect of clinical practice. Clark’s signature “LEEP” approach is designed to “help you build the confidence to tackle academic and personal challenges of increasing complexity and depth” https://www.clarku.edu/academics/undergraduate-academics/whats-leep
Of course this is just one proof-of-concept example, but in general in your situation, I would be looking for places that would not force a decision about your major too early but would allow for exploration… and for places that would do what Clark’s philosophy describes - give you a well-engineered and well-supported path to the confidence you hope to be gaining along with your education.
If you haven’t had any counseling or coaching in the past, around your shyness, it might be something to consider, not just in preparation for college, but also as a first step toward a possible career as a provider yourself. Experiencing clinical work from the client’s perspective is generally a required part of becoming a psychologist. Even trying out an online app like Joyable or Talkspace could give you some really helpful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tools and connect you with a remote coach or counselor that you could continue with through the college transition, no matter where you went, if you were finding it helpful.
Of course I don’t know much about you, so this is all in the spirit of “throw it against the wall and see what sticks.”
I haven’t done any coaching.
My stats aren’t very good, I have a 3.7 UW gpa and a 1370 SAT, but I’m still looking at top schools. I have no geographical constraints and my family’s budget is around $45k.
I really like all of Clark’s programs, thanks!
I haven’t had any counseling. I could try one of the apps you suggested though.
I taught SAT prep at my school-- a required course for Juniors-- two years ago. As winter approached, I started warning them that they would need to start asking teachers in a few months, and to make sure they had 3 teachers they could ask.
One of the kids said “There’s not one teacher in this school who could or would write me a decent letter.”
My response was “If you need to, put my name down. I’m technically one of your teachers, and I’ll be happy to write you a letter.”
As a PS-- I ended up teaching him last year. He was one of 5 or 6 kids who scored a 100% on one of my Trimester Exams. Funny what a change in perspective can do for you.
@elsaanna (BTW, LOVE your user name lol) Ask the teachers in the classes that you loved the most, or where your performance was strongest. Give them a cheat sheet full of info-- your ambitions, what you do with your spare time. Remind them of the successes in their classes-- the 100 you got on the project or whatever.
And trust that they’ll be happy to write you a strong letter. We’ve ALL done it for kids like you.