Most Colleges Require Letters Of Recommendation
I cannot overemphasize the importance of developing strong relationships with high school teachers and counselors as early as possible. An extremely well written, all-telling letter can absolutely make the difference of being accepted or rejected to any college.
Students at the top of one or more of their classes should first ask those teachers to write a letter of recommendation (LOR). However, if a teacher balks, is the least bit hesitant or shows no enthusiasm about the prospect of writing such a letter, another teacher, one who is likely to make the student shine, should be approached instead. A less than exemplary LOR is virtually worthless!
Chose wisely. I often review LOR's for content and grammar, and am constantly amazed at how careless and lax some teachers, counselors and other well-intentioned people can be with a letter of such great importance! Choose teachers who have expressed a genuine interest in the student's future.
Most schools require LOR's from guidance counselors, and some ask for one or more from the student's English, Science and/or Math teachers. Additional LOR's, letters other than those requested on the school's application, are also recommended. I suggest no more than two extras, unless a third is absolutely extraordinary.
Unless the student is an athlete, any teacher is preferable to a coach unless the coach actually teaches a core or standard subject such as English, Chemistry, History, Math, or Language. In some cases, the writer actually asks the student for an outline of what they should write! Each letter should be from someone who knows the student well, such as:
? A college professor (excellent)
? A high ranking military officer (also excellent)
? A member of the clergy
? Chairman or officer of a major corporation
? A member of a volunteer organization where the student worked
? The parent of a handicapped student from volunteer work, i. e. Special Olympics
? A parent whose child was tutored by the student
The LOR can also be from a relative with a different last name if the above criteria is met, but it should not indicate that it's from a relative to avoid appearing biased.
For LOR's not written in English, I recommend the English translation be attached and put on top with a preface stating, "For your convenience, the following is the English translation of the attached letter."
The guidance counselors submit all LOR's originating from the high school. Students should be cautioned not to submit any sealed or unsealed LOR's that they obtain on their own and outside of their school! Any LOR from someone other than a teacher or guidance counselor should be mailed by the person who wrote it, not the student.
All LOR's should be addressed as follows:
[Name of College][Director's name if you know it]Director of Admissions[Street or P. O. Box][City, State, Zip, Zip+4 if available]
RE: Student's Name
Dear Director: [Unless you know their name]
By following these instructions, students will surely increase their edge - even if they're a valedictorian! The best students also need an edge because they are competing against other exceptional students! Students with less than exemplary numbers will stand a better chance of being accepted in the admissions process with outstanding LOR's.
Every student needs that all-important edge in every aspect of the admissions process. Without outstanding LOR's, the chances of acceptance become proportionally reduced.
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