I don't have a teacher to request a letter of recommendation from for college

It’s all in the title… due to low self esteem throughout all of high school I’ve been very quiet in all of my classes, I don’t have one teacher who I’d consider myself to have a good relationship with. I’m very awkward whenever I have to speak to a teacher, I’m not any outstanding student and I feel like none of them really know I exist in class. I’m a junior right now, first semester will be over in January. I don’t know if I will be able to foster a friendship or at least a good standing with any of my teachers in the second half of the year I have left, I don’t know which teacher I should try to talk to more often, or how I can even talk to them with more confidence. It’s difficult to go so out of my comfort zone, I don’t know how to do it naturally, and I’m running out of time…

Go speak with your guidance counselor. S/h may be able to give you point you in the right direction, either by suggesting things you can do to demonstrate you are interested in your academics, partipate in class, etc. S/he may be able to help you with a “script” you can use to give you the wording on how to ask for recommendations and maybe go as far as to feel out a couple of teachers on their willingness to write for you. Your parents may be able to help with a script on what to say when you ask too. Or show up at a peer tutoring session and ask one of this year’s seniors what they did, what they said, etc.

Keep in mind that a quiet kid in class who causes no trouble and basically follows directions, turns in homework on time, etc. may still have a chance at getting a “cookie cutter” letter from a teacher. It isn’t going to be the type of letter that gets you into a tippy top school, but it will be good enough to satisfy the demands of the average college.

Don’t “fake a friendship” with a teacher. However, if your goal is to go to college, now is a good time to start practicing your communication skills with adults. Teachers can help with this, namely by being practice targets. Increasing your comfort level with this is going to help you a lot when it comes time to communicate with college professors (who, by virtue of having potentially larger classes, can appear more intimidating than high school teachers) and fellow employees on future jobs. Work on this!

Many colleges don’t require letters at all. Usually state schools, especially directionals, come under this category.

Most teachers go into teaching because they like to share their knowledge and they genuinely want to help students. If you look at them as willing allies and not only as authority figures, it might help you relax as you give it a try. Best of luck to you!

That quiet kid was me.

Freshman and sophomore year, I was painfully quiet. I literally never said anything. I distinctly remember one time in health class the teacher was discussing different personalities, and at one point she said “For example, who does everyone think is the most quiet kid in here?” Every. Single. Person. in the class immediately turned towards me. This surprised me, not because I thought they were wrong, but because I didn’t think any of them would remember I existed in order to realize I was quiet.

Junior year was a game-changer. I spent the whole year abroad on exchange and basically forced myself to get over my shyness. I’m a senior now, and when I thought about getting letters of recommendations, I realized what a challenge it was going to be. I was either going to have to find a teacher who somehow remembered me despite my not having gone to the school in a year + my chronic shyness, or I was going to have to build a strong relationship with a teacher in the short few months before college applications started to be due.

I chose the latter option. I spoke in class, asked good questions, and always participated in discussions. If a teacher said something I thought was interesting, I would talk to them after class about it. Basically, I pulled a complete 180 from my first two high school years. I’m happy to say I have an excellent LOR from my English teacher, despite the fact that I had never met him before this year.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s not too late! You can still form good relationships with your teachers. Junior year isn’t even over yet. You don’t have to leave the country to try to tackle your shyness, but you’ll need to find a way to get out of your comfort zone. I’d recommend possibly taking up debate- this also helped me a lot, despite my absolutely paralyzing fear of public speaking. You can do it!

dude are we the same person…? literally exact same story. I’m really glad to hear it worked out for you. I’ve been really stressed about deciding what to do for my letters of rec. I know I’ll get just a generic cookie cutter letter from a teacher who probably doesn’t even remember me if I ask someone from freshman or sophomore year… I was thinking of getting one letter from one of my teachers from abroad and then one from my regular school. Do you think that would be a good idea? And do you think it’s a good idea for me to ask a senior year teacher given that I can develop a good relationship with one and ask them for a letter even if it means that they will have only known me for a few months? Especially if I was hoping to go to a top tier school

Ask your favorite teacher or the teacher you do the best in their class.
Part of their job is to write recommendations. They will know you by your work. If you have other info to share with them you can always email them.

"Mrs. Brown,

I am was wondering if you would be able to write me a recommendation for colllege. I have enjoyed your class and particularly like the segment on Fibonnacci sequence as found in nature. I am not sure you know, but I am also in the Physics club where I find it fascinating to apply math to other subjects.

Thank you,


There are plenty of colleges/universities, mostly state schools but some privates too, that don’t require or even accept teacher recommendations. My daughter, who is now finishing her junior year in college, refused to ask teachers for recommendations and only applied to schools which didn’t require any.