The recommendations that accompany your application are incredibly important and informative. A B student with truly outstanding recommendations may be preferable to an A student whose teachers can’t be bothered to come up with more original adjectives than “hardworking” and “diligent”. Below are some tips from Dr. Joie Jager-Hyman's book, B+ Grades, A+ College Application, for communicating with both your school counselor and teachers when requesting a recommendation.
Tips For Communicating With Your Counselor:
- Set up a meeting (or several meetings) to introduce yourself.
- Prepare for the meeting with a clear list of questions.
- Complete a resume and leave it with your counselor so that she has this information in writing.
- Provide your counselor with written notes about specific things that make you a unique applicant.
- Discuss any relevant mitigating circumstances that have affected your academics.
- Treat your counselor as if she is doing you a favor by going to bat for you.
Tips For Communicating With Your Teachers About Recommendations:
- Ask at least four weeks in advance of the deadline.
- Provide your teacher with a full list of colleges to which you are applying and the deadlines for recommendation letters.
- Communicate the specific ways that you contributed to the class.
- Share the topics you learned that you genuinely enjoyed in the teacher’s class. (If you did outside work that was inspired by the class, be sure to mention that.)