Welcome to Applying to College with Trish!
My name is Trish Portnoy and I am here to help you apply to college. Luckily, I am an expert. I have helped over 1,000 high school students go through this process, and you, too, will be totally prepared to pick the right college for you…with a little help from your friends…you parents and guidance counselor!
So, through these blog posts, I am going to go introduce you to the same exercises and tasks …so you can make the same great decisions.
Now, it is vitally important that you SUBSCRIBE to Applying to College with Trish and…if you care about your friends, you should SHARE this information with them, as well. This is perfect timing for you seniors, but really anyone in high school will benefit from it.
Take a look at my website…here we are at www.TrishPortnoy.com and that’s me!
Let’s take a look at the objectives to be covered in this blog:
Purpose of Letters of Recommendations
Whom to ask?
What to provide?
Using Naviance or Common App to Request a Letter
The letter of recommendation holds the opportunity for an educator to give a first-hand account of a student’s performance in the classroom. Your performance can include grades earned, participation in class discussions, high achievements, and honors. It also includes effort put forth such as attending extra help sessions, overcoming an obstacle, attendance records and punctuality. And, it can also highlight special interest in a particular topic, pursuit of additional extension activities, acknowledgement of passion in the subject, and identifying career path opportunities and more.
So, whom should you ask to write your letters? Preferably two teachers who can and will put forth great effort to describe you in the previously mentioned ways. Many recommend selecting a teacher in the core academic subjects of English, Math, Sciences, Social Studies and World Languages. In addition, You may also ask an educator who teaches a specialized area, such as business, art, computer technology, media arts, music and so on.
So, how do you go about this…your first step is to ask your teacher, politely, if they would please be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Hopefully, you will receive a resounding “of course!”. However, I have witnessed some teacher decline the honor because they don’t have time to write letters or for personal reasons.
Also, I have witnessed students asking teachers who are great wizards in the classroom but who are not great-letter writers, leaving students with a lost opportunity…which may
Realize this…you may never see the letter that a teacher writes for you. At some point in the application process, you will be required to sign a FERPA waiver which may require you to give up rights to see application documents.
So, choose wisely..Remember, you need to ask the two teachers who are capable of writing a great letter for you and who are capable of writing a great letter…period.
After your teachers agrees to write you a letter, you should provide them with some supporting documentation which will allow them to write an amazing letter.
First, you should provide them with a draft copy of your activity sheet, resume or listing of your extra-curricular activities, in case they would like to include items or refer to it during their letter writing process. However, your English teacher should not really be writing about your season on the Varsity Soccer team. Your English teacher should be writing about your performance in his class, your work ethic, your passion for creative writing, etc. etc.
Second, you should provide a summary of details that will support your teacher in writing the best letter possible. For example, include the name of the course or courses that you took with the teacher, the length of time you have known him or her. Remind the teacher about your grades earned, homework and assignment history, grades and honors earned, level of class participation, attendance at extra-help sessions and extension activities. It is also a great idea to inform your teacher about your career aspirations and life-plan.
Believe me, the more concrete information you provide to your teacher, the more detailed the letter will be, and the more useful the letter will be to the admissions committee and to you. All this information can be shared via email and document attachment after you ask your teachers in person.
Finally, you may need to “invite” your teachers to upload their beautifully written letters by using Naviance’s Family Connection, Common App or a college’s website. Less high-tech high schools, may have teachers submit their letters in paper copy directly to the guidance counselor so it can be included in the student’s file.
The letters of recommendation are a great item to get done and cross off your list. Once the letter are written, uploaded and filed, they can be shared with all the schools you apply to.
And, a Thank You note is always the right answer. Just sayin’.
If you or your parents would like additional reading on the topic, please refer to pages 90-94 in College Apps: Selecting Applying to, and Paying for the Right College for You which you can get at your local public library or at Amazon.com by following the link from my website.
Trish Portnoy is a YouTuber, blogger, writer, app developer and high school teacherwho helps high school students and their parents research colleges, understand their options, and make choices using resources from the Internet, guidance counselors and other helpful people.
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