Letters of pride

One of the most important elements of your college application (if you are planning on studying abroad) is the recommendation of a teacher. College admissions offices take these letters very seriously, and it is critical that you do your best to secure the best letters of recommendation possible. There are a few things you can do to get strong letters of recommendation (LoRs).

Decide which teachers should write your LORs

A good LOR tells a good story about the applicant. The story reflects the strengths - and perhaps a few weaknesses - of the candidate. A good letter contains some details, some examples, some bits of information that bring the candidate to life for the reader. And a good letter might also provide information about the student’s intellectual growth and development over time. Therefore, you need to choose a teacher who knows you well to write your letter.

You also need to make sure that you choose at least one teacher in a core academic discipline. Admissions officers want to know about your performance in and contributions to the classroom. Don’t assume that you should choose the teacher in whose class you are performing the best.

Nor should it necessarily

be the teacher of your favourite subject. You need to identify the teacher who knows your work, who can tell some good stories, and who can highlight your positive personal qualities.

Establish a relationship with your teachers

Before you decide which teacher will write your LoR, you need to consider that a teacher will not know you very well unless you make an effort to get to know the teacher. Participate in class. Ask questions. Work hard. Demonstrate your interest, your fortitude, your proficiency. Express interest not only in the class, but in the teacher. Obviously, you will get along better with some teachers than with others. Develop relationships with the teachers with whom you share affinity.

Consider the timing of your request for an LoR

Don’t wait until the last moment. Don’t ask right after your midterm or final exam - when they are still grading stacks of papers or during school vacations. Look at

your own deadlines for your college applications, and

consider requesting the LoR at least a couple of months before the deadline.

Pop the question

Your question can go something likes this, “Out of all my high school classes, I have enjoyed yours the most. I feel that I’ve learned a lot from you. I like the material we are learning, and I think you’re a great teacher. I also think you bring out the best in me. I would like to ask whether you would be willing to write a strong letter of recommendation for me as I apply to colleges this year. Of all my teachers, I think you know me best, and I’d be pleased if you would write my recommendation.”— Agencies