How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a high school teacher is a fairly common requirement in the college application process, but an extraordinary one can help your application truly stand out. 


Which teacher should you ask

It may be stating the obvious, but you should ask a teacher you know well to write your letter of recommendation. That means you should have taken a class with them within the last 2-3 semesters and that you should have shown interest and engagement in the subject matter. If you’re trying to decide between a couple teachers to ask for your letter of recommendation, consider if you’ve engaged with them outside the classroom—as an advisor to a club you’re involved in or as a coach of an athletic team. Finally, unless you’re pursuing an art, music, or physical education major, your letter of recommendation should come from an educator who teaches a core subject—english, history, math, or science. 

How to make a strong ask

Actually ask your teacher. Ask them in advance, And ask them in person.You’re not the only student in the school soliciting letters of recommendation for college applications. Some teachers may get dozens of requests and good letters take time to write. An in-person ask with a two-month lead time will result in a stronger recommendation for you compared to a request made by email a week before the letter is due. Help yourself by helping your teacher with plenty of time. Also, offer to provide envelopes, stamps, and any other supplies or information needed to get their recommendation to your schools. 

Follow-up afterwards

Once your letter of recommendation has been completed and submitted, send a handwritten thank you note to the teacher who wrote your letter.

For more tips and advice on the college application process—including how to decide on which colleges to apply and how to save the most money, schedule an appointment with one of Accolade Financial’s experts today.