You're getting ready to apply for colleges. You have everything ready to go. Test scores, check. Transcripts, check. List of extracurricular activities, check. But there's one thing you're missing, and you're dreading it. The it of course, are your letters of recommendation. They're required by practically every college out there, but they're one of the scariest things to have to ask for. I mean, you have to come up with a list of people to ask, ask them, and then hope that they say yes. It's a scary thing to do. No one wants to be rejected because it's embarrassing. And if you're rejected once, it's a terrible hurdle to overcome. Well I'm here to help. I've asked for plenty of letters of recommendation and I want to share with you the things I've learned.
The most important thing to remember is that the worst that anyone can say is No. It's not the end. Don't take it personally. When someone does tell you no, more likely than not, the reason why is because they don't really know you.
So, who do you ask? If you're about to enter your Junior Year in high school and you've been performing well in class - at least a B, then ask your teacher. They see you everyday and have a good feel for your personality.
If you volunteer, participate in sports, or have been a member of a school club for at least 1 entire semester, ask the coordinator/coach if they can write you a letter.
Remember, parents, friends, and relatives cannot write you letters. So be proactive during your high school years and get involved in an activity so you can get to know influential people (like teachers, coaches, etc.) in your community.
If I were you, I would begin writing a list of 3 to 5 people to ask. The top two people should be strong yes' and the rest should be strong maybes.
Once you have your list and are ready to start asking, prepare what to say and when. Always be respectful of their time. If you want to ask a teacher, ask either before or after class or wait till after school. If it's a coach or a counselor, ask them if you could speak to them privately sometime soon. When you meet with them you can say something like this,
"Excuse me Mrs. Rogers, I'm getting ready to apply for college and I was wondering if you would write a letter of recommendation for me?"
When you are ready to ask, be sure to have a couple things ready with you.
1.Your resume with a list of your extracurricular activities, gpa, achievements, awards, etc.
2. A business sized envelope with the College address on the front. Put: "Re: (Your Name)" in the lower left hand corner.
3. Ask the teacher/coach/etc to place the recommendation letter into this envelope, seal it, then to sign across the seal with their signature.
AND most importantly, give them at least 1 month to finish the letter and give them a deadline. So, if you are asking your history teacher for a letter on September 3rd, let him know that you need the letter by October 3rd.
Remember to follow up on their progress two weeks after they agreed to write you a letter. Just ask them how it's coming along. Be respectful. If they haven't started yet, don't get mad, just remind them of the deadline.
Once they do complete the letter, please write them a thank you note. Buy a blank thank you card from the store and tell them how much you appreciated what they did for you. It really is the least you can do.