College & Beyond

Teachers’ Recs

Teacher recommendations play a significant role in the college process. Teachers can attest to a student’s academic promise, character, and work ethic, so please think about which ones will write the most positive recommendations. I also advise giving them a hand-written note in May or June at the end of junior year, right before summer. E-mails and texts are more casual. A hand-written note suggests that you took the time to put down your thoughts and adds a personal, respectful, warm touch.

I find that many students, who experienced trouble in school, get very nervous asking their teachers for recommendations. However, the teacher you ask may understand the circumstances that led to lower grades, or you may have a teacher who sees your positive characteristics and potential. I am including below, two letters to two different teachers from a senior who didn’t consider himself much of a student. Notice that some of the phrasing can be repeated for both teachers. As a result of these letters and his character, the teachers were more than happy to write his recommendations, and I think that he was extremely relieved.

Letter To First Teacher:

I have found in my high-school career that most classes tend to be routine and don’t spark much interest. My experiences in your classes have changed my views on learning. From you, I realize that the passing of information from teacher to student doesn’t just have to be a lecture; learning can involve questioning, looking at the big picture, philosophy, the integration of life lessons, and the importance of the individual. I know that in twenty years, when someone asks me about “the teacher” who had the most impact, I will remember how your influence helped shape my thought process and attitude towards life.

I know that you are moving this coming year. Since you have taught me in both eighth grade and eleventh grade, I am asking you to write my letter of recommendation for college. I thought that you would be the right person, since you know me the best of any teacher. In the past, I never would have thought about “school” and “enjoyment” occurring simultaneously. Your class single-handedly gave me the tools to proceed to the next level of study and adulthood.

Thank you for your time,

Letter to Second Teacher:

I have found in my high-school career that most classes tend to be routine and don’t spark much interest. My experiences in your classes have changed my views on learning. From you, I realize that the passing of information from teacher to student doesn’t just have to be a lecture; learning can involve questioning, looking at the big picture, philosophy, the integration of life lessons and moral codes, and the importance of the individual. I respond to how you combine a laid-back, friendly class atmosphere with an emphasis on high-quality work.

Since you have been my 7th and 8th grade advisor and now are my senior-year teacher for World Literature, I think you are the best person to assess my growth as a student. Considering I trust you, as both a person and a teacher, I would be honored if you would be willing to write my recommendation.

Thank you for your time,