Recommendation letters

How do you ask teachers for a letter of recommendation? Is it better to send them an email or to ask after class? Is there any information you should send them before/after asking?

My son sent an email with his “resume” attached and a short explanation, also an offer to talk with them in person if they would like.

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Math: I asked via [class discussion] call. After a week or so, I sent an e-mail with an attachment of my official request letter in PDF.
English: Sent an e-mail with an attachment of my official request letter in PDF.

Your letter must at least include the following:

  • Application deadlines
  • Schools you’re applying to
  • A brief background as to why you’re applying to these schools and why you chose them as your recommender (Since recommendation forms from current teachers are a requirement, make sure to clarify this policy with them)
  • Information you need from them (name, e-mail)
  • Suggestion: Provide them a brief explanation of the process of receiving the recommendation form. How does it work? Will Gateway send them the letter? Via e-mail? What should they expect?
  • Suggestion: You can send them a copy or link to the recommendation forms (as reference) provided by Gateway on their website. This is to give them a gist of what they will be filling out.

Just make sure that your letter is well-written and informative. Provide them with all of the information they may need as a reference and guide as they make their final decision. It’s best to include in your letter that you’re willing to schedule a call if they prefer. Let them know that you insist on having a 1-on-1 meeting with them so you may discuss your request, application background, and get to know each other (if your classes are still online this year). Offer them a wider scope for discussion about your request.

As for me, instead of making a CV… I made a spreadsheet (you can say that it is somehow a “brag sheet”) with my credentials, application info such as deadlines, facts about me, why I am eager to be part of a boarding school community, and aspects that involve their class and subject. Hope this made sense. Message me anytime!


My kids both asked in person and only needed to provide an informative email to the principal. The teachers knew my kids well enough to just write the recs. Very small school.

Teachers should be asked ASAP.

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“* Suggestion: You can send them a copy or link to the recommendation forms (as reference) provided by Gateway on their website. This is to give them a gist of what they will be filling out.”

If you are applying using Gateway to Prep Schools, you can send it directly through the website. Not just send as a reference as stated above. It is very simple. On Gateway you can see the form ahead of time and it is not really a letter of recommendation, it is a form that asks the recommender specific questions. When I said my son sent his resume, it was really just a list broken out into academic achievements, sports and other EC’s.

Good teachers know how to write good recommendations. Last year my daughter had to ask 3 teachers she had never met in person, from her new cyber school. None of them even met with her to discuss and she got into a HADES school.

Down here in the swamp, few kids went to boarding school….so, the first question I was asked was “What’s wrong?” Or “Is there a serious problem?”

I met briefly with each teacher and the principal after school to inform them about applying to BS. Back then, there was a request for a counselor and if there was no counselor, then the school principal.

My advice echoes those statements above:

  • Make it as easy as possible for the faculty to send in the recommendation.

  • Provide information about the student that they might not know about.

  • Briefly, you might want to explain why your student is seeking to attend a BS (positive way).

  • Request before Thanksgiving break, if possible.

I actually just asked for a few recommendation letters today! I have a pretty close relationship with 2/3 teachers so maybe it was easier. I just stayed after class where we had a 20-minute break, and explained 1) what I was doing 2) why and 3) how they could help me and both were more than happy to. Also, both requested emails with what I want them to highlight, etc.


  1. Make it easy
  2. As early as possible
  3. Explain to them why you are applying to BS, they need to see that this is a big thing for you and are then more likely to put more effort into it.

Also, I had a question about recommendations myself. For my special interest, I’m going to ask my piano teacher for the past seven years, but she’s primarily a french speaker as all my lessons are in french and I’m not too sure how good her english is, so is it possible to submit recommendations in french? Or an official translation?

Thanks, and for the above I hope it helps!

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I would submit the French and a good translation of it rather than have her write in a language that is not her first and that she may not be able to adequately convey her thoughts.

Regarding the personal recommendation letters. Can a close family friend e.g. my kid’s godparent do this? Thanks

I had a close family friend/neighbor who I would consider family do mine, and it didn’t seem to be an issue. But I’m certainly no expert.

Both of my kids (who are now a top boarding school) had a close family friend who had spent a lot of time with them and could speak to their character and personalities submit a letter.