ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Get Great College Recommendations from Your Teachers

Updated on April 14, 2013
phdast7 profile image

Theresa Ast earned a PhD (Emory) in European History and has taught history for 20 years. "Confronting the Holocaust" available at AMAZON..

The Halls of Higher Learning

Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Applying to Colleges is a Process: Begin Early

Tiger Mom, one of our fellow Hubbers, recently posted the following questions:

How do you ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation? How much weight does this letter of recommendation carry in your college application? Should you waive the right to review it before it's sent?

In my experience, both as a student and a professor, a letter of recommendation can carry a lot of weight. Lots of students apply who have great GPA's and excellent SAT or GRE scores.

So often admission decisions are made based on something else.. most often on faculty recommendations or student essays (which is another topic all together). It is very important that you have two to three good letters of recommendation.

Start the Process as a Sophmore

Asking a teacher to write a letter is not the problem (more on that in a minute). The real issue is, have you built a relationship with a teacher? Was your attendance good? Did you speak up in class? Were your exams and assignments of high quality? Did you visit the faculty in their office just to talk? Does the teacher really know anything about you? Have you been discussing your post-graduation plans with them?

If you can answer yes to most of these questions, then you should ask that teacher/professor for a recommendation. Here is what you should do. Start early in your senior year, maybe even over the summer, gathering all the information and application materials from the schools you hope to attend.

Make sure you ask the teacher for a letter at last three months before the final deadline. Teachers can be exceedingly busy and some of us receive requests to write several letters almost every semester.


Organize, Organize, Organize

Be extremely organized. Fill out all the necessary forms - for each professor you are asking and for each college or university you are applying to. Sign and date all the applications. Make sure you include a stamped addressed envelope if one is required.

Complete a detailed resume on yourself, include all your noteworthy activities, both in and out of school. Volunteer activities, offices you held in student government or "serious" school clubs or organizations, participation in philanthropic organizations, church or school mission trips, political activities - emphasize what you did to be helpful, not who you were supporting - the evaluator might have very different political leanings. Now put all these documents, for each letter to be written to a different college, in a nice clean manila folder.

Talk to the Teacher or Professor

Now go see your teacher/professor during their office hours, making an appointment and showing up on time, is even better (don't approach the teacher during class and don't stop them in the hallway). Sit down, be pleasant, be gracious, and be polite; after all, you are asking for a favor.

Explain that you are applying to colleges and that you hope they will be willing to write you a recommendation letter. Tell them when the deadline is and show them all the information in the folder. Say thank you.

If and when you get accepted into a college or program, tell your teacher or professor about it and say thank you again; thank you in a letter is even better; sending a copy of your thank you letter to their dean or vice president is much better and will be greatly appreciated.

Teachers and professors often need letters and recommendations, too; those sorts of things can mean the difference between a tiny raise and a decent raise. You are asking for help, so be helpful in return.

Always have several teachers or professors in mind that you can ask for a letter, just in case someone says no. Teachers usually say no for one of three reasons: (1) they don't really know you or your work, (2) they don't believe they can write a positive or supportive letter, or (2) they are very busy and you have waited until the last moment and they cannot get it done in time.


When a Professor Says No

If a teacher or professor says no, or is extremely reluctant to say yes, don't push it - just say thank you and walk away. You wouldn't get a good letter from them and a bad or weak letter is worse than no letter at all. It tells the admissions committee two things: the teacher didn't like you or thought you did poor work, and you were not smart enough to know who to ask for a decent recommendation.

Generally, we like writing letters for good students, whom we know well. We want to help you; we want you to do well and get accepted by a good school. But teaching faculty often have many obligations in addition to teaching that you may not be aware of. We serve on multiple committees, task forces, and councils which have meetings all the time.

Often we serve as the chair of, or report writer for, several committees. Some of us are school deans, program coordinators, department chairs, or division directors, etc., and carry a lot of additional duties. Last, but certainly not least, there are professional research and writing projects and papers, which are the pathway to possible promotion for us.

Asking for assistance well in advance of the admission deadlines is crucial and is much more likely to result in a favorable response, and a very good recommendation. Hopefully, if all goes well, more than one institution will accept you and you will have a happy choice to make.


Give Yourself Every Advantage

As a general rule, students who take the SAT, GRE, or LSAT during the summer, rather than during the school semester, do a better job studying and preparing, therefore, earning higher scores. The higher your scores, the broader your choice of colleges and universities.


Comments - University or College: The Recommendation Letters

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 

      6 years ago from Delhi

      it is entirely my pleasure mam, you are really kind :)

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You are very welcome - glad it was helpful. And thank you for the lovely fan mail. Welcome to HubPages. We are glad you have joined us. :)

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 

      6 years ago from Delhi

      very informative hub mam

      thank you for sharing

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Tammy - Glad you thought they were useful tips. Thanks for your positive comments. I really appreciate them. :) From working in College Admissions I bet you have seen everything. It is sad when students miss deadlines or leave out a crucial form or piece of information. I agree with you, it all ought to be hand delivered...I didn't even think to mention that in the Hub.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you Kristine. Hopefully, if we get the word, there will be unprepared and disappointed students.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Wonderful information. I will be sharing this Hub. Voted Up!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent tips Phdast7! I worked in College Admissions for many, many years. These tips are fabulous! It is always wise for students to check in with prospective colleges they are considering and find out when all the important deadlines are- especially scholarship deadlines. I found it very sad that so many high school counselors caused students to loose out on scholarship money by sending transcripts and information late. Students should hand deliver everything and never rely on the school staff to meet these important deadlines. Really great ideas!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Great hub! Just have to say it again! And sharing!

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you Audrey. You are so right...students should not assume anything they should directly ask their teachers if they are willing and "able" to write a positive recommendation. Very good point. :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Great hub! I am frequently asked to write letters of recommendation for voice students--and am usually happy to do so--but I always advise students to ask a prospective teacher whether the teacher is willing to write a positive letter when asking for letters of recommendation.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Sue - Thank you for your encouraging comments. I write these letters all the time; I am part of this process and it just seemed to make sense to try and lay it all out. :)

      You have a great weekend as well. Theresa

    • profile image

      Sueswan 

      6 years ago

      Hi Theresa,

      Invaluable information presented in a clear and concise manner.

      Voted up and interesting.

      Have a good weekend. :)

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Lee - I appreciate you stopping by and your comments, of course. Getting all the paperwork and letters organized was a chore for me when I was trying to get into graduate school and I only applied to one university!! Now, I am the one writing all the letters. :) So I wrote the Hub from long experience. :) Theresa

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Frank - Thank you so much. I did try very hard to be practical and specific so that students could get a handle on the letter-writing process before a college appplication deadline is looming over them. I appreciate your comments as always. :)

    • Drtruthman profile image

      Drtruthman 

      6 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Excellent Hub. Oh how it takes me back both trying to get into college and grad school as well as getting 2 of my 4 kids there and they went to my Alma mater. But it was still a chore. This was a great advice piece and I appreciated the time you went to in writing this. I voted UP all across except for funny. Loved the photos. Lee

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      Phdast this is such a practical guide designed for parents and students who want inside information on the letter writing process. I like the fact it offers advice to those who actually need it.. this can be a complete companion for college bound students.. useful

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)