Who Should You Ask for Your Letters of Recommendation

By
Eva Mckinzie
Published on
September 22, 2021
Teacher with a thumbs up speech bubble talking to a student

It’s the beginning of February, so now is a great time for current juniors to begin considering who they might want to ask for Letters of Recommendation. While Letters of Recommendation perhaps, aren’t what comes to mind when thinking of the main component of a college application, they can help you greatly!

This is because these letters offer the admissions officer insight into how you act in class and outside of class, and perhaps what you can contribute to their school. This is why strategically planning who you’re going to ask is significant.

This Simple Studies article will help guide you through the brainstorming process so that later on this semester, you will be ready to confidently ask your chosen teachers!

1) Which classes do you perform well in?

An assumption held by many in regards to who to ask for Letters of Recommendation is that you must ask teachers of the classes you had the highest grades in. While this can be correct, but this is certainly not always the case.

Ask:

If the classes you scored highly in were classes in which you participated greatly, formed a personal bond with your teacher, or were able to strongly demonstrate some of your best and most unique qualities, then asking the teachers of those classes could be the way to go!

Don’t ask:

If the classes you scored highly in were classes in which you essentially sat around and didn’t really show the teacher your interest in the class (by not participating much) or you simply didn’t have much of a bond with your teacher, it may not be the best idea to ask for a Letter of Recommendation from that teacher. You want your writer to be an advocate for what personalities they witnessed from you when teaching you. If all they can say is “Emily was able to earn a high grade in AP Biology”, then the letter most likely won’t help you out much.

2) What did you struggle with?

It could very well be in your favor to have a letter of recommendation from a teacher that taught a class that you struggled in more than your other classes or in comparison to the other students in your class.

Ask:

If you had a class in which you maybe did not receive a high grade, but showed significant progress from where you started, or maybe you were able to bond well with your teacher, then getting a letter of recommendation from them could be great because they can speak to your struggles and how you overcame obstacles.

Don’t Ask:

If the class in which you struggled reflected your lack of time spent/effort spent working on that class, it may not be a good idea to ask the teacher for a letter of recommendation. This probably seems quite obvious, but it’s always good to be reminded that your writers are supposed to be able to offer a positive perspective to your application!

3. What teachers know you in a non-academic setting?

College admissions are so much more than grades, GPAs, and test scores. Colleges care a lot about how you spend your time outside of school and having a letter of recommendation from an adult that knows about your engagement outside of school can be beneficial as colleges can continue to get to know you more.

Ask:

If there is an adult that knows you and your extracurricular commitments well enough to write a thoughtful letter, then ask them! This could be a coach, employer, club organizer, etc. This person can offer the admissions officers details regarding how you lead a group of people or maybe can talk about your dedication to a sport!

There are many other ways you can go about asking for letters of recommendation! The three types of individuals mentioned in this article are not necessarily the only types of adults you can ask; just think about yourself and what you want colleges to know about you. Good luck!

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