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College Recommendations (LOR)

Colleges will ask for 2 recommendations from teachers and 2 from mentors or other references. The LORs are valuable to colleges for three reasons.

LOR's Reveal more about you than grades & test scores
LOR's Provide personal opinions of your character
LOR's Show who is willing to speak on your behalf

When to Ask for Recommendations

Plan ahead. Applications are due Halloween. So make sure to asks for all references well before this deadline. The earlier you ask, the better. Many teachers like to write recommendations during the summer. If you plan to meet the Halloween Priority Deadline, you'll definitely need to ask for recommendations by the start of your senior year or before.

Remember that some teachers will be writing whole stacks of letters, which takes time. Your teachers will do a better job on your letter if they don’t have to rush.

Whom to Ask for Recommendations

Ask two or more teachers. Ask at least 2 non-teachers who know you well.

  • Schools often ask for letters of recommendation from an academic teacher — sometimes in a specific subject — or a school counselor or both.

  • Ask teachers who know you well and you feel really understand you

  • Ask at least one teachers from junior or senior year, but pick ones who has known you for a while. Colleges want a current perspective on you, so a teacher from several years ago isn't the best choice.

  • Consider asking a teacher who also knows you outside the classroom. For example, a teacher who directed you in a play or advised your debate club can make a great reference.

  • Ask other adults too — such as an employer, a coach or an adviser from an activity outside of school — who have a good understanding of you and your strengths.

  • Perhaps most important, pick someone who will be enthusiastic about writing the letter for you.

  • If you’re unsure about asking someone in particular, politely ask if he or she feels comfortable recommending you. That’s a good way to avoid weak letters.

How to Get the Best Recommendations

Some teachers write many recommendation letters each year. Even if they know you well, it’s a good idea to take some time to speak with them. Make it easy for them to give positive, detailed information about your achievements and your potential by refreshing their memory.

  • Talk to them about your class participation.

  • Remind them of specific work or projects you’re proud of.

  • Tell them what you learned in class.

  • Mention any challenges you overcame.

  • Give them the information they need to provide specific examples of your work.

  • If you need a recommendation letter from a counselor or other school official, follow these guidelines:

    • Make an appointment ahead of time.

    • Talk about your accomplishments, hobbies and plans for college and the future.

    • If you need to discuss part of your transcript — low grades during your sophomore year, for example — do so. Explain why you had difficulty and discuss how you've changed and improved since then.

RESUME - Whether approaching teachers, a counselor or another reference, you may want to provide them with a resume that briefly outlines your activities, both in and outside the classroom, and your goals.

Tips For Getting Recommendations

The following advice is easy to follow and can really pay off:

  • Waive your right to view recommendation letters on your application forms. Admission officers will trust them more if you haven’t seen them.

  • Let your references know what the goal is --- provide a sample LOR

  • Make sure your references know the deadlines

  • Follow up with your references in Aug-Oct. of senior year to make sure all is well

  • Follow up a week or so before recommendations are due to make sure your letters have been sent.

  • Let your references know how to submit their letter -- portal, email, mail, etc.

  • Send a thank-you note or email once your references are received


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