In addition to your high school transcripts, essay, and FAFSA paperwork, colleges will often require letters of recommendation as part of your application to the school. But why? They’re actually a huge part of the process and can provide a boost to your application. Here’s a few reasons why they’re so important:
A View Into Your Strengths
Letters of recommendation are usually provided by teachers that share your interests and they’re great insight into how well you perform in your particular major. The teacher you choose to write the letter can tell your future school about your engagement in the classroom, beyond what a letter grade allows for, as well as informing them about your passion for the particular subject, learning, or other aspects of your life, education, or future career.
Most schools will recommend two letters of recommendation. It’s highly suggested that you choose the best teacher you are close with, but who also aligns with your future career goals. If you are majoring in history, for example, you will want to try to choose a professional in that field.
A View Into Your Interests
Your life extends past the classroom, as does your interests. If you have a passion for sports, volunteering, working with children, music, or more, the letters of recommendation give your future university a chance to see those passions, written by someone close to you. They provide insight into the person you are, even outside the classroom, and show what you can bring to your school.
It’s important to remember that a letter of recommendation doesn’t solely have to be from your high school teachers, so feel free to consider other professionals in your life such as your volunteer coordinators, coaches, or other members of your community.
A View Into Your Relationships
One thing students don’t often realize is that letters of recommendations provide a view into their relationships and connections with their teachers, the school, and their community. Since you’re often choosing a professional you’re close with to write the letter, the recommendation will reflect on your own professionalism, respect for others, and actions in the classroom. It’s a testament to how you treat and get along with faculty members as well as your peers.
This is a major reason why it’s important to cultivate strong relationships with your teachers. If you have a teacher who knows you as accountable, honest, or a pleasure to have in class, this is one you’ll want to pursue for your letter.
Letters of recommendation reflect you.
Overall, even though your two letters of recommendation are a reflection at your time at high school or in the local community, they’re also a picture of who you will be at your college as well as in your future. They give your choice of university a clear idea of what to expect and the type of person you are, far beyond what letter grades are capable of.
When choosing a teacher or another member of the community to write a letter of recommendation for you, make sure they are a professional who knows you as a person and can really show your future college why you’ll be a great fit at their campus and classrooms.
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