How to gently remind teachers of recommendation letters

The title pretty much says it all. I’ve been pretty relaxed towards the recommendation letter deadline (asked at the end of November), but now there’s only 2 weeks left and out of 5 recommendations, only 2 have been submitted. Should I be this worried about it? How should I approach teachers and gently remind them to write the letters?

I’m worried that they might forget to write them, probably a factor in this is that last year when I applied, one of the recs didn’t come in till January 14th. One of the teachers is the head of the social studies department, so he’s very busy typically. Another is the only Latin teacher at the school, so he’s also very busy although these 2 teachers are the ones I think I’m closest with. However, I’m only kind-of close with the third teacher and my grades kind of dipped and were pretty bad at the very beginning, but improved a lot as I adjusted to high school and that reflected a lot in that class particularly.

Thank you! Happy New Year!

Feeling this! Still waiting for one also. And one is the guidance counselor and transcript! Asked in early November. Sent the reminder through Gateway twice to the math teacher. The guidance counselor clicked something in Gateway so that sending reminders through Gateway is impossible. I have emailed twice (after my kiddo’s first request- I only emailed because I used to work with the guidance counselor).

Even worse, I just found out that I don’t have one of the teachers in this second semester. I’m still taking the same class, they just changed my teachers for it. Only 10 days left and still 3 recommendation letters unwritten. I’m beginning to get very very worried about it. What’s a good way to remind them?

Acknowledge that they are busy.
Let them know that the schools have not acknowledged receipt of their rec (if they are submitting directly) and that you are following up to ensure that you meet all the deadlines.
Indicate that this is very important to you and that you appreciate their help in pursuing this goal.

While you are stressed to be in this situation, you can think about this as an opportunity to show them that you can politely and respectfully advocate for yourself - an important BS skill!


Have you written them some bullet points about your accomplishments in their subject area, or even better some feedback you’ve gotten from them this fall? I’d try to help them fill in the blank page if you can.

Yep! I gave it to them when I asked them, but they might have lost it, so I think I’ll also resend it to them

My son finds himself in the same predicament. He is still waiting for his math teacher to complete the recommendation form. The teacher hasn’t even opened the link, despite it being sent in early November and again last week. This happened when my older son applied as well. In fact, his math teacher (not the same as my current applicant) missed the deadline by several days. It was extremely frustrating but did not seem to negatively impact his application. All you can do is gently remind and hope for the best. I wish it wasn’t so stressful. Good luck!

There is plenty of time before these letters are due. Do you typically submit your assignments well before they are due? No? Why would you expect your teachers to do so? One thing you might do to give them a gentle nudge is to send them a note of thanks for their willingness to write on your behalf during what you know is a busy time for them.

Isn’t it true that teachers can submit after the deadline and you’ll be fine? One of my recommenders submitted Jan 5th for my Jan 1 deadlines

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So is it true you can hit “submit” on Jan 15 even if all the recs are not completed? We have one outstanding and have given gentle reminders, thanks, etc. I was under the impression Gateway wouldn’t let you finish until everything was in, but this is our first time. I guess they just get each piece as it comes?

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Kiddo2 is still waiting on two as well, along with transcripts. He spoke with both recommenders in November, and sent reminders a few days ago. From what I understand, schools are forgiving when it comes to something out of the applicant’s control. Kiddo1 submitted everything on time, and then we were notified by a gateway school that they were missing a transcript. We just sent the request again, with a kind note explaining how urgent it was, and everything was fine. Kiddo1 did not get into that school, but I’m certain it had nothing to do with a late transcript. :slight_smile:

I don’t think I know what Gateway is but I submitted my applications on Common App in December (Jan 1-15 deadlines) and my teachers have been submitting this week. It looks to me like it’ll show up as incomplete on the portal you receive from a college, then there will be a check mark once the letter is sent

Please check the forum subheading before posting: Prep School Admissions. The kid is applying to a prep school, i.e. private high school, not college. You have posted cluelessly TWICE in this thread. There have to be better ways to use your time!

No need to be rude, thanks

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After sending 3 reminders for the Gateway application since the beginning of November to kiddo’s math teacher, he followed up in person. The teacher said he didn’t finish it because it was kind of confusing. I downloaded and looked at the form and it doesn’t look confusing, but I don’t know what Gateway sends exactly. This is the first teacher from two kids going through this process that has had trouble figuring it out. Another reason to go to BS maybe? :thinking: :joy:

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Principal can’t figure it out, either (transcript part already done, so this is just a rec). So frustrating, considering the teachers have finally completed theirs.


When my DC was applying, the school district did its best to reinforce the decision. The teachers themselves were clueless about independent school applications. Supportive, but clueless.

The ELA teacher had them grade their own papers. And by that, I mean the students were given a grading rubric and told to mark up their own essays and turn them in so he could record the grade. The book the class was reading during application season was “A Separate Peace”. :rofl: :rofl: You could raise your grade by bringing in a food donation. In a district where the majority of students qualified for free meals. So I guess the guess the kids whose families got food from the food bank were supposed to re-donate to get bonus points?

I know that my way of coping with the rec issue was to deliver hard copy versions of the form, and follow up emails to the teacher. It turned out that there was an email address issue with one of them. We were using Ravenna, which is a little different from Gateway and SAO. But yes, the application is not “complete” until all the boxes are “complete”, and it’s stressful waiting.

I think it’s very reasonable for applicants to be concerned: January is a busy month for teachers, and you’d rather they get the rec’s done by the end of winter break.

Last year with our daughter’s, the counselor kept saying she had completed it but it wasn’t showing on our end as complete. Maybe there is a confusing element? Although 2 of the other teachers figured it out.

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Well the math teacher who I mentioned above, who said it was confusing, still hasn’t completed it. The school he is applying to has a link on their own site where you can send a request to “additional teachers”, so at the risk of being annoying and confusing him even more :roll_eyes:, I also sent him the request through the school’s link. If by Tuesday it is not complete, I guess I will email the principal to complain - not sure what to do.

In our case, it is the actual principal who can’t figure it out! And now has gone AWOL on the whole thing. I have resent the request through Gateway a couple times. So frustrating when it’s out of your control.
At an info session for one of the 10 schools group, they said just email the letter if the teacher has a problem with Gateway.

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