Are You Properly Prepared When Asking for Letters of Recommendation?

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Are You Properly Prepared When Asking for Letters of Recommendation?

All college applications require two teacher recommendations. It is important to ask two teachers who know you well to write this letter. Preferably, the teachers you choose will be ones who taught you junior year. When asking a teacher for a recommendation, always ask IN PERSON and at the beginning of the school year. Many teachers will commit to writing a specific number of recommendation letters and when that number is reached, they will not accept more requests.  Follow up with this in person or with an email request.

If your high school is one of the many that uses Naviance to help with college applications, the supporting information needed by the teachers will all be completed within Naviance. To help the teachers know you better, these sections should be completed:

  1. Resumé – Naviance provides a simple format to follow. Complete each section that pertains to you.
  2. The list of colleges to which you will be applying.
  3. The dates the applications are due.
  4. Grade point average from your unofficial transcript.
  5. Other information requested by your high school counselor – many but not all high schools have specific sections that need to be completed.

It is important to meet with your teachers and express appreciation for their help. Also, you should share how you are available to answer questions or to help at any time; you should make certain to give your phone number and e-mail address to each recommender.

If your high school does not subscribe to Naviance, you will need to provide information to your teacher recommenders the old-fashioned way – an organized packet of material.

These document packets should include:

  1. A cover letter with details of the request. Each teacher should be given their own customized cover letter. Covers letters should detail what students would like each recommender to include in their letter of recommendation and provide deadlines for submitting recommendations.
  2. A copy of your resumé – this is a MUST. The student resumé gives important details teachers need to know about student activities, accomplishments, and honors earned during high school.
  3. An unofficial copy of student grade transcripts.

After creating a packet of documents for each recommender as described above, you should meet with each teacher IN PERSON. You should give each teacher their packet of documents, express appreciation for their help, and explain how they are being given a packet of documents to help them complete their letters of recommendation.

Also, students should share how they are available to answer questions or to help at anytime; students should point out that their phone number and e-mail address are included on the cover letter.

Requesting letters of recommendation in this manner shows professionalism and courtesy. Teachers and counselors appreciate being asked to write letters in this way and may show their appreciation by writing recommendations that are just slightly better than if they were asked in an unprofessional, sloppy manner.

Once the letter of recommendation is completed, a hand written thank you note should be sent expressing your gratitude.

Lastly, students requesting a letter of recommendation from an employer, supervisor, coach or other responsible adult should follow the same process as described above.

If you have any other questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!


Andrea K. Frimmer, M. Ed.
Prep 4 College Now, Inc.


Excepted from Steve Sterling,

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