Myth: I Should Pick My Favorite Teacher to Write My Letter of Recommendation

Reconsider asking your favorite teacher for a letter of recommendation

Flickr user Intel Free Press

It’s time to ask your teachers for the letters of recommendation for your college applications, but who do you ask? Most juniors and seniors instantly think of their favorite teacher as the answer. While it may be a great choice, it shouldn’t always be the default selection. Here’s why you should consider some alternative options:

Wrong Subject

A good guideline to use for your letters of recommendation is to choose a teacher who knows your strengths. If you’re planning on majoring in chemistry or biology for example, it’s a good idea to ask a teacher who is in that general area. They don’t necessarily need to be in one of those two subjects, but math, earth science, and physics teachers all understand your particular attraction to the coursework and probably know where your strengths lie.

If your favorite teacher is in drama or art history, they may not be able to accurately portray your strengths and passion in the sciences. However, that doesn’t mean you should automatically rule them out either.

When To Pick Your Favorite Teacher

There are a few times when picking your favorite teacher to write your letter of recommendation is most beneficial to your application. As stated above, if they teach in your intended major or minor, they can provide an accurate picture of your strengths as a student but also your passion and interest in the particular subject.

Another reason you should choose your favorite teacher is if they understand your passion, dedication, and commitment to your overall education as well as new experiences. If the drama teacher has seen you overcome obstacles in your way and take the reigns of your studies, they may be an excellent choice. However, in the case of two widely different subjects like in this example, you may only want to consider the drama teacher if you are granted the opportunity to submit two letters and save one for a teacher in your intended major.

Who Else To Consider

Letters of recommendation do not solely have to be written by your high school teachers. If you felt you haven’t developed a strong enough bond with them, you may want to consider the other professionals and adults in your life. If you volunteer, this would be a great opportunity to ask your coordinator. They could give insight into your personality and work effort that a teacher may not have known about

Another choice may be a coach or trainer. If you take horseback riding lessons and are interested in majoring in biology, this might be a perfect, and unique, opportunity. If you’ve developed a strong relationship with one of your coaches, they may also be willing to write a letter demonstrating your commitment on the field and to your education.

In the end, who you choose for your letters of recommendation is entirely up to you. You know your teachers best and may even know their opinions of you as a student. However, before jumping to the obvious choice of “favorite teacher,” take some time to reflect over the past four years. Has there been a teacher or other professional in your life you’ve made a strong impression on? Or has made a strong impression on you? Consider who would give the most accurate representation of you as both a student and a person.

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