Choice of Teacher for Recommendations?

<p>Hey guys, currently contemplating which of my teachers I should ask for a recommendation. I've got a bit of a problem in that all my extra-curricular advisers (debate coach, student council adviser, etc) don't teach me in my main classes, so I can't ask them to write one of my two main recs.</p>

<p>On the flipside, my debate coach DID teach me for a semester long course, this course offered at our school that's mandatory for all IB diploma candidates and is Pass/Fail (and no one has failed). It's a research skills class which isn't very rigorous or academic at all, so one typically wouldn't ask that teacher for a rec... but I really do just want to ask my debate coach for one because he knows me better than all my other teachers and I know would write me perhaps the best one among all my options, and technically, he has taught me this year. Considering that a) he knows me more outside of class than inside it and b) the class was far from academically rigorous, would it be too much of a stretch to ask him to write my rec?</p>

<p>Aside from that, would also like to ask if it's best to vary around the recs I get. I'd otherwise consider asking my French and Economics teachers. Am not too close to my history teacher, just a difference in personalities, so although I'd likely major in Polisci or History, I'd rather not ask him (bad idea?). Are those choices alright?</p>

<p>Oh, and one last question! How does the process usually go? To you just ask them to write you one? Or do you typically give them a talk over the rest of your app, and maybe hint at points you'd like them to expound on?</p>

<p>Thanks a lot! :D</p>

<p>50 views yet no replies :( anyone care to help a poor soul? :D</p>

<p>I had trouble deciding which teachers to ask last year and ended up going with the two teachers who really knew me (philosophy and politics teachers), even though I'd not taken their courses for as long as most of my other courses (just for one year rather than the 2 year courses of my other subjects), and I'd got better exam results in subjects like Psychology. It worked out ok. My interviewer told me after I'd got in that the things my school sent made all the difference in getting me accepted, so I'm guessing the more personal angle worked for me.
If I were you I would choose the French and Economics teachers who know you better rather than your History teacher - your recommendation will always be better if you have a teacher who knows you and wants to see you do well, plus they can always fit in anecdotes and more detailed descriptions of you if they know you. Also, Harvard is aware than many students don't stick with their intended major and it could be to your advantage to show, through reccomendations, yourself as excelling in subjects that relate to your intended major alongside good grades in the subject you intend to pursue more directly.
I can't really help you with regards to your debate coach dilemna, because the semester course thing isn't something I'm used to (we did year-long courses only), but maybe you could consider using your debate coach's reccomendation as an additional recommendation rather than an academic reccomendation (I'm not sure if this is possible with Harvard's app but I know some schools offered that option).
Hope this helps a little. I'm international so things might have been a little different for me, but I thought you could use a reply, even if it's not a very helpful one!</p>

<p>Malthus,</p>

<p>It's certainly entirely fine if you don't ask your history teacher- not everyone who majors in history was best friends with their HS history teacher! Even though I was planning on majoring in biology or chemistry, I got a recommendation from my high school math teacher since I was the closest to him.</p>

<p>I'd agree with you that it's wisest to vary the teachers you ask. Often, students, even those who are interested in the humanities, get a recommendation from a math or science teacher (although this is not by any means universally true, or necessary for admission!). Do you have a math or science teacher that you get along with particularly well?</p>

<p>Generally, however, French/economics recommendations sound like a great pair. Are those the two teachers (of main classes) you were closest to in high school? Remember that you can optionally include a third recommendation, and that might be the perfect place to ask an extracurricular adviser.</p>

<p>Finally, the process of asking someone for a recommendation is, in my experience, very friendly and simple. Just ask them politely to write you a recommendation, and (assuming they agree) say something along the lines of "Let me know if there are any questions I can answer, or if there's any other way I can help you write the recommendation." </p>

<p>Every teacher has a different style of writing recommendations. Some might not need or want any help from you, and will write the letter drawing from their experiences with you inside and outside class. Some might ask you some simple questions about your interests, or what your major will be. Some might ask very extensive questions about your application, or even offer to read your application, but such teachers are rare. Most likely, it will be a very simple process!</p>

<p>Let us know if you have further questions!</p>

<p>Thanks ash13 and Admiral! May I also ask, stopping short of having my extra-curricular coaches write me supplemental recs, is it commonplace for them to just give their comments to my counselor to incorporate into her rec?</p>

<p>It varies- ask your guidance counselor!</p>