Students tend to think they have no control over their college Letters of Recommendation. They find classes in which they have performed well, and ask those teachers to write letters for them. The end.

This little mistake costs many students admission into their Dream School!

Here is a secret: A poignant, thoughtful recommendation letter can easily be the difference between whether your application is thrown into the mountain of rejections or into the acceptance pile.

The question is this: How can I get my teacher or counselor to write a poignant, thoughtful letter about me? In this element of the application, you might be saying to yourself, I feel like this is out of my hands.

I have some good news! It is not out of your hands! In fact, there are three crucial steps you can take to ensure that you provide your dream schools with glowing and insightful recommendation letters.

  1. Choose the right people to write your letters. Choose a teacher/counselor/boss/coach with whom you have a close, personal relationship. Perhaps one of your teachers was also your cross-country coach, or you have spent a lot of extra time with a teacher in an attempt to improve your understanding of class material. These are examples of people who will be most effective in speaking toward your character, not just your academic abilities. Remember, your application already provides your grades, your position on the team, and your test scores. Your letters should provide different information, so it is important to choose people who can say more about you than what the rest of your application already says.
  1. Guide those people to include the right information. This is different than asking your letter-writers to be dishonest, or giving them a bulleted list of adjectives to mention. When you go up to a teacher, for instance, hand them a typed list of prompts:
  • How have I been an inspiration to others (peers/teachers) around me?
  • Describe an experience where I surpassed your expectations of me.
  • Consider a specific experience that testifies to your belief that I will succeed in life.

Prompts like this will not only guide the content of your recommendation letter toward meaningful information about you, it will show your teacher your dedication toward your goals. That little bit of extra effort makes it easier for the person writing the letter, and will leave them thinking about you in an extra-positive way. It’s a win-win situation, and it won’t take you much extra time to accomplish!

  1. Give them enough time to put effort into the letter. Give your recommenders at least a month to write your letters. Your teachers, counselors, and coaches are often busy, just like you. It is disrespectful to ask for a thoughtful piece of writing with only a week’s notice. Don’t be afraid to give them a friendly reminder if the deadline is approaching.

If you found any of this information helpful, BeatAdmissions has lots more like it. The program can teach you how to optimize every aspect of your application, providing inside information about what goes on behind the heavy, wooden doors of the college admissions office of your Dream School. BeatAdmissions’ Dream School Academy is an easy-to-understand video series packed with this type of invaluable information, so that instead of stressing about the application process, you can spend your time focusing on the important part of your application: YOU.

Beat admissions and get started now: Also, have a wonderful day!