How To Get A Good Recommendation Letter – When I applied to college, I was accepted to every school I applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Ivy League, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and so on. While I had a strong overall application, two teacher letters of recommendation were essential in my admission. Why? Both teachers said I was one of the best students they had ever taught. Both highly recommend my personality, leadership skills, and abilities. How can you earn letters of recommendation that will get you into the colleges of your choice? I will show you how in this article. For the first time, I’m sharing my full, unedited recommendation letters as examples for you. These are the exact letters I submitted when I applied to college. Even better, you’ll see exactly what my Harvard admissions officer has in mind—what’s really important as well as important and noteworthy. First things first Quick question — how confident are you in knowing what colleges are looking for in your recommendation letters? Do you have a solid understanding of what an effective letter is, and what a bad letter looks like? Many students have a completely wrong idea of what colleges are looking for in letters of recommendation. This, naturally, leads to subpar letters for students. Before I show you my letters, I first want to explain why recommendation letters from teachers are an important part of your college application, and then what makes effective letters effective. If you’re struggling a bit and really want to jump straight to my letters, here’s Sample Recommendation #1, and here’s Sample Recommendation #2. But I highly recommend that you stick with me for the next two parts—you’ll get a lot more out of this guide and get much stronger rec letters as a result. Why Teacher Recommendation Letters Are Important for College The goal of your general college application is to communicate a humane, easily digestible package that can take 20 minutes to understand (or less). From this package, colleges will decide whether they want you to join their community or not. Yes, it doesn’t feel great to have 18 years of your life compressed into a web form. But that’s the best program colleges have come up with so far to deal with the thousands of college applications they receive every year. (Or in the case of UCLA, 135,000+ applications.) What are universities most important about? In the end, it boils down to two things: how likely are you to succeed in college and in your career how will you benefit the school community as a student and beyond These are the lofty goals most of the colleges when selecting their next class of students. Your application must convince the college that you will succeed in both goals. Of course, these are complex concepts—success is not only hard to predict, but different people also have different ideas of what success means. But there are a few general principles that hold true for most colleges: prior academic success is a great predictor of future academic success, which in turn predicts career success. some personality traits are desired: integrity, leadership, curiosity, creativity, passion, enthusiasm, motivation, ambition, cooperation, trust, and others. You don’t need to be perfect in all dimensions, but some of these should just be strong for you. you also want to avoid the opposite of these behaviors. These are all bad adjectives: dishonest, precious, weak, selfish, proud, rude. For the first admission question of academic achievement, your academic performance and test scores play the biggest role. If you take the course hard and have a high GPA, and you have a high SAT/ACT score, you have proven that you can handle high school students. This means you are in a great position to achieve a college education. Feeling like your SAT/ACT scores aren’t high enough to impress your choice colleges? We’ve written a guide for each exam about the top 5 strategies you must use to have a shot at improving your SAT/ACT score. Download it now for free: How do you present the second question—human behavior? Part of this is in the personal essays and additional studies, where you will show what you are interested in and give voice to your personality. But you would definitely describe yourself as curious, creative, cooperative, kind, etc. Who would describe themselves as unethical and mean? This is why colleges need objective, third-party observers to comment on who you are. Here are your teacher’s recommendations, and why they are important. The function of a rec letter is to show who you are as a person. Your teachers have interacted with you throughout at least one year of class. They have seen you in class with other students, and maybe not even in class. There are hundreds of small interactions that come together to make your teacher’s impression of you. How do you interact with students? How do you get along with the teachers? How creative is your job? How much do you participate in class discussions? How do you motivate yourself to succeed in school? Are you a thug no one wants to be around? Or are you someone the teacher gave to the future? A great teacher recommendation tells the college all of the above. Let’s Hear From Harvard’s Dean of Admissions What if you’re not fully convinced yet? I am just a person with my own consent experiences. So I’m going to call William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at Harvard University: Recommendations from high school professors and counselors are very important at Harvard and at many other colleges, especially those with admissions procedures. choice. Faced with applicants who have more academic skills than places in the freshman class, our admissions officers review the two required teacher recommendations and the counselor’s report with great care, often commenting on them in writing on “books reading” in each application. We often project the recommendations themselves on large screens so that all members of the Admissions Committee can see them during the committee and full committee review processes in February and March. Recommendations can help us see better than test scores and grades and other certifications and can illuminate such personal qualities as character and leadership as well as intellectual curiosity, creativity, and love of learning. Along with essays, interviews, and other materials in the application, recommendations can provide evidence of the applicant’s ability to make a significant difference to the college community and beyond. The Source notes how it says that Harvard “deals with applicants of academic expertise more than places.” What does this mean? “Within a pool of students with the same academic qualifications, we use personality traits to decide who to accept or reject.” And letters of recommendation for students describe those personality traits. To beat a dead horse: your teacher’s recommendations add more color to your academic achievements, your test scores, and your GPA. Letters The best recommendation for colleges asks about your character and personal strengths. This is why my two letters below are effective. You don’t want your recommendation letters to be a repeat of your resume. This it will give the admissions officer zero additional information about who you are. You don’t want your recommendation letters to say, “Johnny is an A and will turn in your homework on time.” This makes it clear that the teacher has no idea who you are, which means you add zero to your application. Great recommendations talk about more than your class performance. They discuss your personal strengths, how you interact with feeling, and why it is likely to be successful in the future. First, I will show you my letters, with an analysis of why they are effective. You will see the highlights of the staff match my Harvard, which will tell you what things you find important. Then I’ll give you tips on how to build relationships with your teachers so you can get letters like this yourself. My Letter of Recommendation You usually do not have to read letters of recommendation for students because you sign a FERPA waiver, waiving your rights to read your application. But I was able to get the full Common App and Harvard application from Harvard, complete with my original letters of recommendation. Most colleges require you to have two letters from professors in different courses. The two teachers I asked for letters were my two favorite teachers in all of high school. Personally, I’m very impressed with teachers who really care about teaching. They inspire students with energy, treat us with kindness and compassion, and go above and beyond expectations to help students succeed. Not only do I have the most fun with these teachers, but they are also more likely to advocate for me passionately in their letters. You may not interact with teachers for the same reasons, but it is important that you choose teachers who are compatible with and who you are.
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