Asking a teacher for a recommendation is an important step on your path to college, and (as always!) we’re here to help. But before we go any further, register your recommender in your College Prep Scholars Program application, if you haven’t already. We strongly recommend that you ask a teacher who has taught you in a core subject area (e.g., math, science, history/social studies, English, foreign language). The earlier you ask for a recommendation, the better. You don’t want your teacher to feel rushed!
The good news is that your teacher is likely familiar with writing recommendations. The best letters of recommendation can differentiate you from a large pool of applicants, so we’ve outlined three things you want your recommender to know to set yourself up for success:
1. Your recommender should know your motivation to apply.
Make a point to talk to your recommender about your interest in applying for the College Prep Scholars Program. Here are a few things to discuss:
- Where do you imagine yourself going to college?
- What are your educational goals?
- Why are you excited to apply for the College Prep Scholars Program?
By sharing these answers with your recommender, s/he will have a better understanding of your academic and personal motivations.
2. Your recommender should know the bigger picture.
To the degree which you are comfortable, speak with your teacher about any achievements, challenges, or experiences you have had outside the classroom that may impact your academic performance. These glimpses into your life will help your recommender paint a more accurate picture of you.
For example, if you are deeply engaged in an extracurricular activity outside of school that your recommender may not know about, you should let them know. Alternatively, if you work a part-time job to help with family expenses instead of participating in more extracurricular activities, your recommender should be aware of that so they can accurately write about your involvement.
3. Your recommender should know that you are grateful.
After you have asked your teacher for a recommendation and provided them with all the information they need, write them a “thank you in advance” letter. In addition to expressing your gratitude, this letter can also serve as a helpful reminder for your recommender about the March 23 deadline to submit.
After you have received the email confirmation from QuestBridge that your teacher has successfully submitted their recommendation, you should write another thank you note. Here’s a template that you can personalize even further:
Dear Dr. XYZ,
Thank you for taking the time to write a letter of recommendation on my behalf. I know that recommendation letters take a great deal of time, energy, and effort, and I appreciate your support during this first step in my college admissions process. I will be sure to keep you updated on my progress. Again, thank you.
Remember: You may need to ask the same teacher for a recommendation next year, so follow these tips now to set yourself up for success!