In addition to submitting essays and standardized test scores, high school graduates also need to prepare a letter of recommendation. When admitting students, many admissions officers would like to understand the applicant as much as possible, not just through the transcripts. A substantial letter of recommendation will undoubtedly help applicants stand out from the pool of competition.
Getting a stellar letter of recommendation is not easy. You would have had many teachers before but do they know you well enough to write a good one for you? It often helps if you pick the most suitable and qualified teacher who knows you best, or to request a professor whom you’ve worked with on a one-on-one basis. So here comes the question, what should you keep in mind when you request your high school teachers or professors for recommendation letters?
Who should you ask for a letter of recommendation?
Don’t just ask someone to write a recommendation letter for you. Instead, you can look back at your high school life and find teachers whom you have had more interaction with in high school. These teachers focus on your growth and are most familiar with your learning progress and personality. In addition, there are instructors who may have coached you in basketball or a professor who have mentored you in a research program. They know your character and your learning attitude best. Therefore, their opinions are the most representative, most consistent with your situation, and the most convincing recommendation letter.
Make an informed choice
Schools have different requirements for students. Some colleges require students to provide three letters of recommendation, one from the high school head teacher and the other two from any other teachers. In addition to looking for teachers who are close to you, you should also find the one who teaches a subject that you excel in. For example, if you are a student who is good at math, you can find a math teacher. In addition, a teacher who is involved in your extracurricular activities will be able to write about your character outside of studies and to showcase another side of you. Recommendation letter is the only subjective evaluation from others in the application. Compared with various achievements and awards, a letter of recommendation allows admissions officers to see a living person.
Every year, teachers and head teachers write a large number of recommendation letters. Therefore, in order to facilitate the teacher’s work and life, it is very important for students to ask the teacher if they are available in advance when asking the teacher to write a recommendation letter.
It is best to ask the teacher at the beginning of the third year of high school and get help from the teacher to prepare for early application (students who apply early need to prepare all university application materials by October).
Help your teacher in order to help yourself
Once you’ve asked the teacher for a recommendation letter, you can provide the teacher with some key points about yourself, such as: you like math and want to do research in this area, so that they can easily complete the recommendation letter. In addition, you can consider sharing your CV with your referees so that they can refer to your priority interests and accomplishments to frame your recommendation letter in this regard, many teachers write a lot of letters every year, so you should provide some form of discussion key points to ensure that your letter is personalized.
Generally speaking, recommendation letters filled with various compliments will not impress admissions officers. Admissions officers want to see that the recommender is really familiar with the person they want to recommend, and can show the side that other application materials cannot show through interesting details and anecdotes, and help them know the applicant.