Securing Strong Recommendations

Letters of recommendation play an important part in the admissions process for selective schools. Admissions officers at top colleges use recommendation letters to gain a better understanding of the applicant’s qualities. Typically, these schools require letters of recommendation from the applicant’s guidance counselor and at least two high school teachers.

Your child’s recommendations can help them gain admission to the most exclusive schools. In this article, we explain how to secure strong letters of recommendation.

Teacher Recommendations

Admissions officers want teacher recommendations that reflect the applicant’s academic potential. Teacher recommendations are meant to provide a glimpse into the applicant’s classroom participation, interests, abilities, and achievements.

Evaluating the Student’s Characteristics

When filling out the Common App, your child will identify their recommenders and include their contact information. The teachers will receive an evaluation form and instructions for writing and submitting their letter of recommendation.

The teacher evaluation form is used to collect background information regarding the teacher’s experiences with the student. This information includes how long the teacher has known the student and the courses the teacher has taught them. Additionally, the teacher evaluation asks teachers to rate the applicant’s intellectual promise, academic achievement, initiative, maturity, reaction to setbacks, leadership, and other qualities.

Insight into Classroom Engagement

Teacher recommendations tend to give admissions officers a behind-the-scenes look at the applicant’s transcript. The transcript is certainly helpful, but it does not reveal whether the student is truly passionate or has meaningfully contributed to classroom discussions.

Confirmation of Performance and Potential

One of the reasons teacher recommendations are so useful is that they reveal the student’s attitude toward learning. For example, if a teacher’s letter of recommendation indicates that the student does not participate in class and has little interest, their good grades may be viewed negatively.

Counselor Recommendations

In addition to two teacher recommendations, most top-tier colleges require a school report and a letter of recommendation from the student’s guidance counselor. Counselor recommendations offer a broader picture of the student’s personality than teacher recommendations.

Insight into Interests

In addition to providing some academic context, the counselor recommendation can show why the student is outstanding. For example, the guidance counselor might detail some of the student’s extracurricular activities, which may offer some useful context for the list of activities and honors.

In most cases, students cannot choose who will submit their school report and counselor recommendation letter. Therefore, it’s important for your child to interact with their guidance counselor.

High School and College Guidelines

High schools and colleges may have their own set of policies governing teacher and counselor recommendations. Your child will need to do research to determine the school’s requirements, such as the number and type of recommendations, as well as the submission deadlines. Even if the Common App indicates the target college’s requirements, your child should check with each school to read all their policies.

Strong letters of recommendation that clearly show why your child is unique will impress the admissions officers. If you would like more guidance on how to go about each step of the admissions process, book an initial consultation. Ivy League Prep is here to help your child gain admission to the most prestigious schools.