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Requesting Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation are an important step in the college admissions process and can make a huge difference in your college application.

Christina Alfaro

April 21, 2015

Requesting Recommendation Letters
Although it’s widely well known that colleges look at a student’s cumulative GPA as well as their SAT/ACT scores during their search for the most prestigious students, it’s often forgotten how crucial recommendation letters are during the admissions process. An average of the grades you received throughout your high school years and what you scored on a standardized test that every other student was expected to take doesn’t represent who you are as an individual. Sure, these numbers may show how well you studied, the amount of time and effort you put towards your classes, and how serious you were during your high school years, in terms of your academics, but college admission counselors will see plenty of students with the same scores.

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Colleges also want to know about you. They like to see who you are as an individual, what traits and qualities allowed you to prosper in high school and what characteristics you hold as a student. How are you any different from the thousands of other applicants applying? This is where recommendation letters come into play. Of course, students can simply write about these matters in their personal statements. The truth is however; that what others have to say about a person is often heard louder than what someone can say about themselves.

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Because recommendation letters are so valuable, do not treat them as a trivial step in college applications. How you go about dealing with these letters could make a significant difference in what colleges accept you. First off, take time to think about who you would like to give responsibility to write about you. Remember, this person is advocating for you and you obviously want them to speak highly of you. It’s best to choose someone who knows you well as an individual and as a student.

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On the same note, take into account how long ago you knew this person. For instance, a teacher you had your 11th grade year is likely a better choice than one you had your 9th grade year simply because as a person you have most likely matured throughout the years. A teacher you have in your 12th grade year will not have known you long enough to write about you well. It’s important to look over who you are allowed to get a recommendation letter from. Each college has their own criteria of who they are looking for to get recommendation letters from. As far as most colleges go, they want to see recommendation letters from academic teachers. Review over this part for each college you apply to see if they have specific requirements such as a recommendation letter from a math/science teacher specifically. Although this may be one of the easier parts of the application process, don’t disregard the importance of a great recommendation letter.

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