Most colleges require prospective students to submit at least one letter of recommendation as part of their application. Some colleges specify that this letter should ideally be written by one of your teachers. Even colleges that ask for more than one letter will usually state that at least one should be written by a teacher.
Recommendation letters carry significant weight in the selection process. It has often been used as the decision-maker when choosing between two equally qualified candidates. Considering it can make or break your application, it is important to choose the right teacher to write your letter of recommendation.
These few tips should help you.
Choose an 11th grade teacher
Experts suggest that 11th grade teachers are the best choice for writing your letter of recommendation. Your 12th grade teachers would not have known you for long enough (unless you’ve had the same one before) to write a convincing recommendation and 10th grade is too far back in the past for your teachers to remember too many details. Besides, you would want to show that you have made much progress after the 10th grade.
In several schools, subject teachers teach 11th and 12th grade. If you have a 12th grade teacher who also taught you the previous year, consider this person as your first choice.
Choose a teacher who knows you best
This may not necessarily be the same as the teacher whose class you did best in. Just because a teacher gave you an ‘A’ does not make them the best person to write your recommendation letter. They may be able to grade you academically but do they know you on a personal level at all?
A teacher who has worked closely with you and has seen you grow and develop through the year may be better able to write down their observations on how hard working you are and how much you have progressed from the time they first met you.
Choose a teacher who taught you the subject most relevant to your academic goals
Getting a recommendation letter written by just any teacher may not always create the impression you are hoping for. For example you may excel in Biology class and you know you are the Biology teacher’s favorite student. However a recommendation by your Bio teacher, no matter how glowing, may not carry much weight if you are applying to Business school. A business school will want to know if you are the right fit for their program and one way to find out is by reading what your business teacher has to say about you and your aptitude in this particular field.
Consider your sports coach or your music teacher only if you require more than one letter
You may have an amazing rapport with your sports coach or your music teacher but unless you are applying for a sports or music program, it may not be such a good idea to approach them to write your letter. Consider non-academic teaching staff only if the school you are applying to has asked for more than one teacher recommendation.
Last but not least…
Before asking any teacher to write your recommendation letter, read the submission requirements of each college carefully. Different colleges may have different specifications as to what is allowed by way of a recommendation letter and what they want to see in it. It is important to take note of the individual requirements of each school and ensure that your submission satisfies all the terms and conditions. It would be an absolute shame to get a glowing letter of recommendation only to find that it is not accepted because it does not meet the college’s criteria.
Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!