Some tips and information that will help with the process of how to ask teachers to write recommendations for you

By: Camryn Corbin, Senior Educational Studies Major at Rhodes College 

If you’re a junior preparing to apply for college in the fall then now is the perfect time to start thinking about which teachers you may want to write recommendations for you on your behalf. College recommendations are a major part of your application and a great way for the school to learn more about the type of student you are and how you’ll contribute to their environment. So the person you have writing on your behalf is extremely important.


When considering who to ask to write your recommendations it’s important to think about who you have the best relationships with, and it’s also good to start with a list of 4-5 best options as some of your first options may not be available. Most college applications won’t ask for more than 3 recommendations so it’s good to have a few backups just in case. 


When thinking about what makes a “good relationship” vs a “great relationship” think about those teachers where you easily participate in their class, show interest in the material, and offer your skills to help others or often volunteer for leadership roles in the class if possible. Also, think about teachers who may also serve as a coach or supervisor for another activity you participate in. For instance, a history teacher who is also your basketball coach or an English teacher who is also the supervisor of your school newspaper that you work for. Those relationships are the best bet when the teacher not only sees how you operate as a student but as a member of a team as well. Additionally, your recommendations should be written by someone who you’ve worked with recently. So whether that be a class you’re currently in or had the year before or a coach/mentor you've worked within the recent year. 


Other options include teachers where you perform well in the class and take the time now and then to get to know your teacher on a personal level. If you have any relationships where you’ve shared a bit more about your personal life with them and such they may be a great option because they know more about you than just being a student. The classes where you may have struggled at first but improved after seeking help from your teacher or a tutor would be great options as well because that teacher can write to your character of not giving up and finding ways to overcome obstacles and succeed in the classroom. It’s crucial to consider the relationships you have with your teachers because these are the people who will help you stand out amongst your peers. 


Now if you currently can’t think of anyone who may fit these descriptions, that is okay. There is still time in the year to develop these kinds of relationships with your teachers. Start with the classes where you understand the material easily and perform well in the class. These teachers can easily see that you’re a good student and will be more willing to work with you. With these teachers, maybe take some time after school to talk with them about your plans for after graduation and share with them what kinds of schools you're applying to or programs you're hoping to get into. Also, who you ask may heavily depend on what type of program you're applying for. If you’re hoping to get into a school for the arts then asking your music, art, or theatre teacher for a recommendation will be the best option. So of course every detail matters, and can also be adjusted depending on where and when you’re applying. 


When you ask your teachers for a rec you should ask them at least a month in advance as teachers have a lot of students along with busy schedules and will need some time to get everything you need done. This is why it’s important to start thinking about who to ask well enough in advance so your teachers are prepared as well. Overall, if you make sure to ask the right people they will be more than happy to help you as you're moving forward in the next stage of your life. Your teachers have played a huge role in your education and only hope to see you move forward successfully and want to do their part in making that happen. 

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