As summer approaches, you’ve hopefully by now let the teachers who you hope will be writing your college letters of rec know that you would like them to write recommendations on your behalf. As we’ve told you before on our blog, letting them know in the fall is not a good idea. That’s when so many students ask their teachers for recommendation letters. They’re bombarded with writing lesson plans for their classes, with faculty meetings, and tons of other students asking for the very same thing. That’s why asking them before the summer is a great idea. This way, teachers can write your college letter of rec on their own terms during their own time, when their life isn’t so hectic. But is asking them to write a letter in which they recommend you all that you should do? No. Absolutely not. In fact, that’s the easy way to get a generic letter of recommendation.
What you should be doing is helping your teachers write their letters of recommendation. Does that sound a little weird? Maybe, but get over it. Some teachers will openly thank you for your help. In fact, the majority will in our experience. Occasionally, teachers might think it’s a bit presumptuous but our students at The Ivy Coach are taught to walk this line very well. And even the teachers who say they don’t need any help from you, when they’re behind closed doors and time is getting away from them — they’ll use what you gave them.
So what can you give them? Our students at The Ivy Coach prepare answers to selected questions and these answers shine a lantern on what sets our students apart in the classroom. These answers show college admissions counselors our students’ love for learning and specific things our students did throughout the year in the classroom — whether it’s an exceptional presentation on John Adams or reciting memorized passages from “Hamlet.” Teachers just don’t remember what you did and how you stood out in their class as well as you do. After all, there are about twenty-five other students in the class and possibly another one hundred students in their four other classes. You’ve only got yourself to focus on so you’ll remember what you accomplished and how you engaged in classroom debate better than anyone (including your teacher). Reminding your teacher of all of this will only help your college letters of rec appear less template and more memorable to college admissions counselors.