Sep 21, 2009

College Application Letter of Recommendation

Everyone knows that the right connections can take you anywhere. Sometimes all it takes is a foot in the door to gain access where everyone else is turned away. This is a fact of life that is universally applicable, no matter where your goals may lead.

Getting into college is no different. But even though you may have never met the dean of the school of your choice or had a close family friend on the admissions board, there are still ways to use the opinions of others to sway things your way. One perfect way to do this is the letter of recommendation.

Consider who you want writing yours. Pick a teacher whose class you enjoy. Whatever you present to the letter-writer in class will be presented to the letter-reader in admissions. If you are attentive, responsible, and show initiative in class, your teacher will write that in. If you fall asleep and rarely turn in homework, your teacher will write that in. You want to present admissions with the ideal student- find the teacher who will best see that side of you.

Also consider the authority of the letter-writer. A brand new teacher will not hold as much sway as the head of a department. However, it is always better to pick the person who knows you best, even if they aren’t as far up the totem pole as some other choice.

Make sure to give your teacher enough time to complete his or her task. It’s hard for someone to say you have disciplined work habits when you’re trying to get something done at the last minute! Depending on workload, you should give your teacher about a month to get the letter done. While this may seem like a very long time, teachers are usually way too busy to think about much more than grading and running a class. Let your teacher of choice know as soon as they are chosen. Ask about their schedule, let them in on your deadlines, and try to find something that works for them. Remember, asking for a letter of recommendation is more than just a favor- they are putting their own reputation on the line for you!

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