How do I choose good teachers for recommendations?

Even for the most accomplished and loved students, the prospect of asking teachers for recommendations can be terrifying. Of course you want them to be honest with the colleges of your choice, but undoubtedly the ideal situation is that they would give you a well-written and glowing review. If you choose the right teachers to speak on your behalf, these two end goals do not have to be mutually exclusive.

The first thing you should check is if your intended college requires a recommendation from any specific type of teacher. Many schools will ask for a recommendation from your college counsellor as well as a letter from the teacher of an academic subject. Depending on the school this may be a specific academic discipline, so many sure to check beforehand. In addition, many colleges prefer a recommendation from someone who taught you during your latter years of high school – Junior or Senior year.

Once you know your school’s requirements, it is time to consider teachers whom you believe would be good advocates for your application. The first thing that should come to mind are teachers with whom that you are particularly close. This includes mentor figures and teachers you’ve had multiple times throughout high school, or maybe one teacher with whom you felt you bonded. The better a teacher knows you – your academic habits, extracurricular interests, and general personality – the better they will be able to write a convincing recommendation on your behalf.

In addition, brainstorm teachers who know you outside of the traditional classroom environment, like a club faculty member or advisor. It can be useful to have a teacher write a letter of recommendation from a nontraditional perspective. It is also important to consider other adults in your life whom you believe know you well. This can mean a sports coach, employer or any other adult that is involved in activity you would list on your resume.

With these steps to choose the perfect recommendation, you should have a glowing review in no time and might even grow closer with the adults with whom you ask. Happy choosing!

-Olivia Ferraro

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