Asking for Letters of Recommendation

CollegeAdvisor Admissions Expert Roger shares his insider perspectives on who will write you the best recommendations and how to ask for them.

Date 07/27/2021
Duration 61:47

Webinar Transcription

2021-07-27 Asking for Letters of Recommendation

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Asking for Letters of Recommendation. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists.

Hi there. My name is Roger. Um, I graduated from Yellen in 2018, uh, with a major in political science and I concentrated in urban studies. Uh, right now I currently work at a law firm in New York, uh, in their business development department. And today it will lead, uh, at the Afro recommendation. So first things first, uh, what our lives recommendation, basically.

This is the one piece of your application that you yourself do not necessarily craft directly to colleges. Want an objective third party view. From [00:01:00] someone that is not yourself. Um, ideally, um, this letter serves, uh, for serves the purpose of letting colleges get to know you as a student, as a member and as a member of your high school’s community, um, colleges will want to know your academic potential and a little bit more about your personality, something that isn’t necessarily in your personal statement.

So really these letters serve to paint a picture of how you will fit into the incoming class. Um, and again, as I said, this is the one piece of your, of the application where you don’t have direct control, but there are ways to manage that, um, and exert indirect control. So who writes less verification? A lot of colleges will specify, uh, their requirements and their recommendations.

Um, in most cases it’s, it’s two or three letters and most schools will designate who they should be writing. So in some cases, [00:02:00] it’s two teachers and one guidance counselor, um, your school’s guidance counselor, or one teacher, one guidance counselor. Um, some colleges will allow you to submit additional letters of recommendation.

Um, and these can come from figures in your life, such as other teachers, coaches, employers, but you should really be careful if you’re thinking about submitting additional letters on top of, uh, what is already required or recommended by the university. Uh, remember admissions officers are very busy people.

Um, so by submitting an additional letter that we’ll just rehash something else that’s already on your application, you’re really just making their lives a little bit more difficult, and we don’t want that. We want you to stand out. Um, so that is, uh, you know, who writes your letters of recommendation? Um, So who are the best teachers to ask for these [00:03:00] letters?

Um, basically you want to ask a teacher, uh, who taught you in a class where you excelled, um, a class where you stood out among your peers. Um, and ideally this teacher would also have some insight into your life, um, outside of the classroom. So on top of that, you preferably want to aim for, for a teacher who taught you in your later years.

So sophomore and junior, um, maybe you’ve already, you already know what classes you’re going to take senior year. So if this is a teacher who’s taught you in either sophomore and junior year, and we’ll also teach her and senior year senior fall, um, that would be a good person to go to. Um, and another great example is a teacher who also serves an extracurricular advisors.

So let’s say you’re. Thinking about applying, um, as a political science major, um, you’ve taken a push, you [00:04:00] do debate, um, and it just happens that your APH teacher is also your debate coach. Um, that’s, you know, this is an example where your teacher has been able to teach. Uh, you know, Nick gets to know you in an academic setting, but also outside of the classroom, that means that they’ll be able to tie in the qualities that you have demonstrated in the classroom with qualities that you’re also able to show outside of the classroom.

So there’s a connection there. Um, similarly your bio teacher and science Olympiad coach, if that, if that’s a thing there too, um, that’s also another great connection. Um, some schools also have academic teachers. That’s also sort of as academic advisors or home homeroom teachers. Um, if that’s something where if homeroom is a place where you are able to talk a little bit more about your personal life, again, these are opportunities where.

You should be able to, again, uh, synchronize, uh, what happens at school with a little bit with what happens outside? [00:05:00] Um, alternatively, uh, was there a class you struggled in? This is a little bit out there. Um, but just bear with me basically, if there was a class that you struggled in, but it showed significant improvement in, this is also a great opportunity.

Um, because did you seek help, uh, from the teacher in the class that shows initiative right there, did you improve that shows academic curiosity and excellence? Um, this is the teacher that we’ll be able to talk about both of those qualities in their letter. Um, and so when you’re also thinking about how to strategize, uh, you know, when, what teachers to ask you want to diversify the subject area.

Uh, that your teachers have taught you. Um, so again, let’s say you’re a political science student. Uh, you may want to do your history teacher, but maybe one of the sciences. Um, if you’re thinking, um, sciences, [00:06:00] maybe, you know, do one in bio and do one in English, um, basically the idea behind diversifying is that it shows schools that you’re not just necessarily pigeonholed into your subject, um, and that you’re capable of, you know, uh, demonstrating curiosity outside of just that subject.

But if you can’t, um, diversify, just because you don’t think others, other teachers in other, uh, well, it’s okay to focus on just the teachers in your intended major or just fall within that area. So now we’re going to do a quick post, so I’ll start pulling, but the question is, what grade will you be entering this fall?

And I’ll give you a second to answer. How many recommendations did you ask for? Are you asking me? Yeah. Um, I asked for two, so I had my, uh, AP bio teacher and my Latin teacher actually. [00:07:00] Oh yeah. Um, you know, I graduated in political science, but I actually went into Yale thinking I was going to be a psych major.

Um, so that’s, that’s where that came in. Uh, okay. So the pole looks pretty done. So, um, the results came out that two people are freshmen. Two people are sophomores, 12 people are 11th graders and then 24 people are seniors. So there’s a lot of seniors in the chat and then one person is an other. So either they’re very young or it’s a parent.

All right. Amazing. Um, and the reason why we asked that conducted that poll, um, is because. You know, you’re probably wondering when you should ask, uh, reach out to your recommender. And that is probably by the end of junior year. Um, the idea there is that some teachers will limit how many letters they write per year.

Um, so you maximize your chances by asking her anything. [00:08:00] Um, that being said, you know, there are some seniors in our chat, uh, in our webinar tonight. Uh, if you haven’t asked already that’s okay. Um, for example, my school timeline, we didn’t start asking until the fall, um, and the way you may, uh, yeah, so, so those trusts, uh, there’s still time, uh, if you haven’t asked.

Okay. Moving on. Um, when you’re thinking about asking a recommender, you may also want to think about crafting a Brack sheet, uh, and what is a practice sheet? This is basically a casual resume that highlights your interest payments, basically. Um, your recommender is going to be writing a letter, and this is your way of sort of, um, directing them in what you may want them to highlight and also helping them get to know, uh, your achievements outside of the classroom a little bit better.

Um, [00:09:00] so this’ll help your teacher connect again, connect the qualities that you’ve demonstrated in the classroom with the activities that you’ve done outside. Um, and also guidance concerts have a busy job too. Uh, and sometimes you don’t really get to know them as well until senior year or late junior year.

So having a Brack sheet will allow them to get to know you as well through your, through a resume. And so what do you want to include on this practice sheet? Um, Some schools do have a template. So maybe you may want to ask your guidance counselor or a teacher first to see if that there’s, if there’s any information that they want on there specifically.

But if there isn’t, and you’re sort of, um, doing this preemptively, here’s some things that you may want to consider. You’re going to want to include the schools that you’re applying to and their deadlines, um, what your expected major is and your career goals. They’ll be able to sort of tie that into, you know, uh, what you’ve done in the classroom.

[00:10:00] Um, honors and awards, just anything that’s that you’ve, um, have to show for outside of school enhancements there, um, extracurriculars are really helpful leadership roles, accomplishments in those, again, those will help tie your academic interests to what you do outside of school. And if there are extenuating circumstances that impacted your performance in school, you may want to include those too.

Uh, just because it’s better for them to know. And help sort of talk about, you know, what happened there and whether you were, how you were able to sort of persevere through those circumstances, um, with BRAC sheets that go to your teacher. Um, you may also want to highlight a specific moment where you think you raked on that class so that they’re able to bring those out as specific examples in their recommendation.

Um, and with your guidance counselor, you may also want to highlight personal strengths that you have. [00:11:00] Um, and ideally when you highlight those strengths, you will provide supporting examples so that they’re able to sort of pull those from the, um, Brack sheet and sort of include them in the rec in the, in letter of recommendation.

But, uh, when you do that, um, make sure it’s something that’s like within academics or extracurriculars, uh, not something completely out there. Uh, just so that it makes sense that this would have come up in a conversation with a guy.

Um, and so when we talk about the impact that letters of recommendation have on your application, um, again, this is another data point that college is used to evaluate your, um, candidacy. Um, so with your transcript, your resume, uh, your, uh, extracurriculars, those can all be sort of considered quantitative sources data, just because you can honestly quantify, um, your leadership [00:12:00] roles, you can quantify your grades, um, and you can quantify your test scores, right.

Um, but with letters of recommendation, these are more qualitative. Um, and so they highlight personal qualities that colleges find attractive. Um, how do you engage with the subject? How do you handle challenges and criticism? Ideally you do all of these things super well. Um, and so when colleges have holistic.

Basically, if they’re not necessarily just looking at your grades and your test scores, they want to evaluate you as a person and in the community. Um, so if they find that you have these personal qualities that will boost your application, um, it’s particularly important for small liberal arts colleges, just based on how many applications they got.

You know, these are smaller schools with smaller pools of applicants, therefore, uh, their admissions officers have more time to go through, um, your application and read through the letters of [00:13:00] recommendation. Um, therefore giving it like greater weight in the process as well because small liberal arts colleges are also highly focused on creating a community out of their incoming class.

Um, and so this is also, they’re also important if you’re thinking about applying to extremely competitive colleges, um, such as the IVs, uh, just before. This could be that little source of data that pushes you above and beyond everyone else who has all, who also has a 4.0 GPA and has excelled in the SATs.

This is, uh, this could just be just that. Um, so that’s like the important to get a great letter of recommendation. That being said, um, a lot of recommendations can that colleges get, can just be generic. Um, but even if they are generic, they tend to be positive. Right. Um, teachers won’t really accept to write a letter [00:14:00] unless they think that they can do a good job.

It it’s considered sort of unethical for someone to, uh, accept, um, your request to write a letter and then write a negative letter of recommendation. Um, in most cases, if anything, if the teacher doesn’t know you well, they’ll just write a generic letter, but that again can be mitigated by presenting them with.

Or asking them if they require any more information to help write a better letter of rec, uh, um, again,

highlighted something special. Um, and if that doesn’t happen, don’t worry. There’s still the rest of your application. Um, negative recommendations, as I’ve mentioned are really, really rare but dangerous. Uh, just because again, most, if not, you know, more than 90% of, uh, rec letters of recommendation that colleges get are going to be positive.

[00:15:00] Um, you know, a lot of them are going to be generic, but whatever. Um, and so negative letters do stand out. Um, so you probably know the relationship that you have you’ve had with your teachers and your guidance counselor. So you know who to avoid, um, avoid teachers that you had conflict with and. What’s also really important is that you are honest and consistent throughout your application.

If you know, you have a suspension in high school or someday, um, the last thing you want is for that teacher to sort of mention that in their letter of recommendation, uh, just to make sure again, that you’re being honest and consistent the right application, because you don’t want your teacher to mention anything negative about you, that you don’t necessarily, um, that you won’t, that you haven’t disclosed the application.

So I could come off, you know, trying to hide something and we don’t want that. Um, so consistency, honesty, um, and working, um, uh, can, [00:16:00] can work in your favor sort of getting a letter of recommendation as well. Okay. So we’re going to do one more poll. So, um, the question is where are you in the application process?

So, um, Which we call it. I haven’t started I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. Oh, wait, sorry. Wrong one. Haven’t started putting together my school list started my application almost done, uh, or completed if you’re already that far, which would be surprising. Um, so, um, yeah, and if you do have like a suspension or something of that nature, there is a part on the common apps where you have to explain those certain circumstances.

So don’t lie. If you do, hopefully you don’t. Exactly. Yeah. Do not lie on your application. It never ends well. Okay. So I’m going to close the poll. So it looks like, um, nine people haven’t started [00:17:00] 25. People are putting together their school lists. Nine people have started their application and somehow two are almost done, but I don’t remember that actual comment opening yet.

I mean good for you guys. That’s amazing. Okay. Um, it’s, uh, you know, McKinney and I already talked a little bit about this. Um, but the reason we asked that poll is just, you know, as a, as a point of reference, um, I, my high school had one timeline that began early fall, a senior. The teacher and my teacher, um, I in general had been doing super well in, um, foreign languages, uh, at my, at my high school.

So I really thought that this was one place where I excelled. Um, and it also helped that my Latin teacher had taught me, uh, [00:18:00] intermittently since eighth grade. So, and was also my academic advisors. So he knew me pretty well. Uh, so that one I knew for sure was someone that I wanted. Uh, and then again, I was thinking of applying as a psychology major going into school.

Um, so I needed something in the sciences. And at that point I’d taken AP bio and AP chem. I knew that my AP chem teacher, um, was going to get a lot of letters of recommendation. Uh, and my AP bio teacher, I took a little bit of a risk here. She was actually in. Um, but I had worked on developing a relationship with her, uh, throughout my junior year.

Um, so I want, you know, asked her and was there for able to diversify, um, you know, it had something in the languages. Um, and I had something in the sciences, so, um, oh yeah. And then when it comes to my guidance counselor, um, he was sort of, sort of [00:19:00] aloof and didn’t really like do much until junior year. Uh, And that’s really when I decided to arrange a separate coffee meeting.

Uh, and we met regularly throughout a senior year actually to just talk about where I was in my application. Um, and he ended up asking for a resume from everyone in high school. So, um, the time I did it, uh, just a point of reference.

Okay. And last pieces of advice for me. Um, so ideally you want to ask in person, um, it’s a little bit more intimidating than sending an email, but it’s a lot more personal. Um, and it is also harder to say no, when you ask person, um, that being said, once they accept, uh, if they accept rather, um, You [00:20:00] want to be, you want to set up a follow-up email that is grateful professional.

Uh, just really nice. Again, teachers don’t necessarily get paid for their time. Writing letters of recommendation. This is actually something that’s coming from the bottom of their heart, as cheesy as it is. Um, and the other thing that you may want to include in that email is the offer to help. Um, so that basically means that you’ll, you know, you can offer it to have just a sit down, have a quick chat about your academics, your extracurriculars, uh, you can offer your brag sheet.

Your teacher will probably tell you what they need to write a good letter of recommendation. Um, and so those are some things that you may want to include in that email. Um, do not ask to reply or a lot of yourself, the reason why is because. A lot of teachers actually will disclose that if, uh, if they worked [00:21:00] on the letter with you, uh, to the college.

Um, and that means that the college will know that this necessarily, this wasn’t necessarily like an objective source of data. Um, in addition, on the common app, there will be a section where you have to waive your FERPA rights, um, where you don’t have to, but we recommend that you do a FIRPA is this federal legislation that ensures that you have access to your educational records.

Um, and one of those is actually your letters of recommendation, but that sort of creates a conflict of interests where now you have access to your letters of recommendation. So your teachers will know that you’ll read them. Um, and that’s not that again, it goes against this idea of objectivity. So you want to waive your rights, um, because that will ensure that your recommender, uh, We’ll write an objective, uh, piece of recommendation and objective [00:22:00] recommendation.

Um, and lastly for me send the minimum amount of letters possible. Um, some schools will give you, as we discussed, some schools will have a recommended number. If you think that your coach, uh, for your varsity sport that you’ve been playing out for four years will highlight something that you like. That is absolutely not anywhere else in your application, then it’s okay.

But in general, try to limit the number of letters that you send. You do not want to bombard and annoy your admissions officer. So, um, those are the last pieces of, uh, advice from me. Um, and yeah, McKenzie. Yes. Okay. So we’re going to get into the Q and a chat. So I’m going to read over some guidelines, but when you said that it’s harder to say no in person, it made me think of my English teacher who flat out told me no, cause he was irritated that day.

And I asked them what him two weeks before. So I guess just do a quick little question. How do you go about if a teacher says, [00:23:00] no, that’s a good point. Um, you know, it’s a little, it’s, it’s disheartening, you know, rejection is never great, but that also isn’t the end of the world. You know, you have other teachers who have taught you, um, just say, okay, I can, uh, move on, do not make a big deal out of it.

Don’t go like throwing a tantrum in the class. Um, and you know, like it’s a repeat of your grade. Um, move on, um, and work on solidifying a relationship with another teacher. Um, It’s just surprising though, just because again, most at this point you have developed a relationship with the teachers, with the teachers at your school.

So you will probably know who are your. Okay. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions. You submitted through the Q and a [00:24:00] tab, paste it in the public chats, and you can see them and then read them aloud before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads-up.

If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just double-check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. Cause he’d be joined through the webinar landing page. It doesn’t allow you to use all the features, but yeah, make sure to submit in the Q and a chat.

And then I’m going to be the ones that copy and paste them into the public chat. Just so we don’t get confused or lose questions, but. There was some general themes that I saw coming up in the pre panel question. So I’m going to kind of mix it a little bit, but, um, so a lot of people are literally curious about how do you ask a teacher or how do you build a relationship with the teacher?

So one person in the chat as how do you get a letters of recommendation when you’re an introvert? And then a lot of people are also concerned with, you know, this past year was virtual. So like they’re having a hard time building that sort of connection. So how would you go about doing that? Right. Um, so [00:25:00] developing a, the first question is developing a relationship with your teacher.

Um, you know, uh, some of you are juniors. We have a few sophomores, I think there’s there’s time for you guys to reach out. You know, um, most teachers are. Open and, you know, are available after class to the point for questions about the side effects. Um, you know, you can go up to them, , you know, by just talking about the academic subject, um, seeking out help.

And if you tell her something need help, like you can also go to a teacher and just like, have a conversation about the subject and that probably lead to a conversation about your life. Somehow, it’s also a good skill to develop in high school, just because a lot of colleges have office hours with professors.

And that’s an opportunity where you’ll have to do it again. If you want to go to grad school essentially and developed professor relationships with professors is about, so I’m going to a teacher for help. Um, [00:26:00] also maybe reaching out for just an informal coffee, um, is a great way to sort of develop these relationships.

If you’re an introvert. I do understand, uh, that a little bit more, um, as well, like the way that, the way to do that, I think is, um, you’re still in class, right? With the teacher. You still have to participate. Um, and so participation, there is another way that you can develop a relationship, um, with the teacher.

Uh, but particularly with an introvert, I’d say asking a teacher toward your junior and senior year, if you’re too afraid to do it in person, that’s okay, can do it over email. And again, uh, you can always offer to help. And if it filling the gaps in that relationship by offering a Brack sheet or offering to meet with them, one-on-one, um, teachers are [00:27:00] honestly there to help and, um, help foster a relationship.

Um, so. It’s once, once, once you extend an olive branch, um, it’s a lot of teachers will be eager to help and get to know you. Okay. Um, yeah, it’s something building relationships with teachers. Um, okay. So a lot of people are asking like how to like, not necessarily game the system, but sort of how to get an advantage.

So like one person asks they plan on being a psych major. Who would you recommend they’d ask, uh, letters of recommendation for. And so a general theme that I saw coming up was does it matter like who it comes from, like their role or does it matter more what they have to say about you? Gotcha. Yeah. So ideally you would want one teacher who is matches up with your intended major, um, and one teacher in just another subject at school.

Um, it doesn’t, I don’t, it doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s a [00:28:00] core subject or an elective. Um, as long as it’s in an academic elective and. Um, but to, to your point, Mackenzie, um, you don’t necessarily, excuse me. Well, let’s say all of, for some reason, all it let’s say you want to be a psych major. Um, but all of the teachers in the sciences, you don’t have a great relationship in with, but you have a great relationship with your English teacher.

For some reason, you, what you should prioritize your English teacher. You want to prioritize people who like have, who you actually have a good relationship with. Um, the sec it’s secondary, if you, if they fill in to fit in these like gaps, uh, uh, sorry to fit into the circles of, uh, subject areas, you primarily want to, um, make sure that you are submitting recommendations from people that you have the strongest relationships with.

Um, so you have your, your sort of, um, you know, juggling and like weighing, uh, the strength of your patient against like, [00:29:00] um, the subject areas, but that’s something for you to. Uh, you know, for me, for example, Latin isn’t necessarily like a core subject and it’s not, um, something I really wanted to pursue in college, but that’s where I had the strongest relationship with the teacher.

So, um, that against, um, this making sense of my intended major and that’s how I just went about that, that, uh, decision. Uh, okay. So another thing I’m seeing with regards to teacher recommendations is like what year they should be from like, um, one person asked, um, you recommend that I ask, uh, teachers from my sophomore and junior year, however, is it okay for me to ask teachers from, um, my freshman year?

So like answering that and then also explaining why colleges ask for more recent teachers, right? Yeah. Um, it is okay to ask a teacher from your freshman year, but ideally if you do, you’ll want to have, [00:30:00] you want to make sure that you’ve continued that relationship. So. Um, because colleges want to know who you are now.

Uh, you know, ideally there has been growth since freshman year personal growth that you’ve shown. Um, so the problem with asking a teacher from freshman year is that they’ll be sending in a letter of recommendation from, for someone that they knew three years ago, uh, before you applied. Um, and that sort of, you know, is not very helpful in letting them know who you are now and who you are as an incoming freshmen.

Um, but again, if you’ve maintained a relationship with this teacher, um, either through extracurriculars or by any means really, um, you’ll be able to mitigate that concern for college and your teacher will talk, we’ll be able to talk about, like, I actually need a student, um, outside of, outside of the classroom in this manner for after freshman year and that’ll help [00:31:00] mitigate those concerns.

Uh, okay, so this one’s kind of a nice question, but, uh, can I ask my English teacher to translate the recommendation letters from my other teacher who does not speak English? So from Spanish to English, um, if so, how do I upload the original recommendation and translation in terms of, um, do I ask them to include both in a single document and then upload it, uh, in the coalition or, um, do they upload them separately?

Okay. Um, that is definitely a niche. Uh, my recommendation there is that you actually reached out to an admissions officer, um, and they’ll be able to provide that answer. Um, just because again, there are questions about objectivity once you involve another person. Um, so. You know, ask your top choice school, um, ask your second talk to our [00:32:00] school, um, see what they want, um, and go from there.

So reach out to their, uh, office of admission. Yeah. And then some things could be lost. Some nuance could be lost in translation. So I think that second idea you had though with uploading both documents in a single doc makes sense. But yeah, definitely reach out to someone for a more specific answer. So I’m going back to like what year the teacher should be.

Uh, someone asked his senior year teachers to recent because that’s not enough that may not be enough time to build a strong relationship. Hm. Yeah. That’s a good point. Um, really at that point, it comes down to you making that decision, uh, because you’ll you’ll know like whether you’ve reached that point in, uh, in having a strong enough relationship, if you don’t feel like you.

Done it, I wouldn’t risk it. Um, but if you have made [00:33:00] the effort, if you’ve, I don’t know somehow, and I’m going to, um, office hours every week or something, um, and feel like you’re definitely re uh, making a report with the teacher, um, then I’d say, go for it. Uh, it really comes down to the level of an initiative that you’re willing to take in developing a relationship with someone that you just met recently.

I think that’s a great point. Like, and it’s also never too late. Cause like I asked my teachers for recommendations. I had one senior year teacher. Um, I didn’t ask her. It was sort of because I asked someone else and they asked her for, it was, uh, it was a lot of steps, but she was able to write a good recommendation for me, even though I only had it for a few months and I applied early.

So it, it worked out. Um, okay, so this one’s sorta a good, this one’s a good question. Are letters of recommendation required or does it depend on the school you want to apply to? It depends on the school. Um, so [00:34:00] honestly there are some schools that don’t even require a letter of recommendation, um, just because they get such a large amount of applicants.

This normally tends to be state schools, um, that they really just don’t have the manpower in terms of admissions officers to even read all of them. So they just don’t even require them. Don’t even allow you to submit any. Um, so it really it’s a school-by-school thing. The way it works on the common app is, um, you’ll, you’ll break down your teachers email, I think.

Um, and then that that’ll shoot out like an email to them. They’ll fill it in that goes to like the common app and then you’ll select what teachers you want to submit the recommendations for, for each school. Um, And so that way you’ll, um, be able to sort of control, like what recommendations go, where, um, and then if a school doesn’t need any letters of recommendation or doesn’t want any rather, um, you won’t have to send them.

Yeah. [00:35:00] It all starts to make sense when you actually get to see the common apps or whatever application you’re using. And then you’ll literally see all the things they’re asking for. Um, some of these just might be because you haven’t seen it yet. Right. Um, okay. So one person, um, was curious about Brock sheets.

So, um, do the, does the student write the Brack sheet or does a guidance counselor or someone else make it? So, um, guidance counselor may provide a template. Um, if that’s the case, then it’s just like a basic outline and you’ll just have to fill in your information. Um, but if there isn’t that template, then it comes down to you and your, uh, You and your, um, sort of like initiative, um, and creating your own, uh, document there.

Uh, okay. So one student ask, he knows since you’re applying to multiple schools, uh, [00:36:00] can the same recommendation letter be used more than once? Yes. Um, so like we said, um, the way it works on the common app is they get sent to like the central database of the common app of your own common app. And then you select the letter of recommendation and what schools you want to send it off to.

So, um, you know, uh, if you, that way you only really need to ask for like two or three teachers and, uh, not go around everyone asking, asking different teachers for, uh, each, each school. Um, and you know, that, that’s how it works. So just ask a few teachers, um, Yeah. That’s why it’s also good. Like, I liked what Roger said about the, um, like what you include when you’re asking a teacher, like put your major, what school is you’re looking at so that they have an idea of where you’re applying.

So they don’t say, um, so that they can like switch it up per school. Um, so that’s [00:37:00] going to be important just so that they know what’s up, but teachers have done this for a while, so they shouldn’t be too confused. Um, okay. So a lot of students are asking, like, not about non teacher recommendations. So like if they can ask an advisor or some, a program coordinator, um, like it, can you explain like how the common app or just the general application works with regards to, um, recommenders and who you can ask?

Uh, wait, I’m sorry. Can you say that? Uh, it’s like a one person asked, I built a relationship with my magnet program coordinator. However, she hasn’t been my teacher and I don’t believe she ever will. Um, is it okay if I ask her for a letter since I’ve been actively building a relationship with her since freshman year, so like non teacher recommendations.

Okay. Right. Um, it depends. So some schools, uh, let’s say Yale is very explicit saying you need to [00:38:00] have recommendations, come from two teachers and one guidance counselor. And so some that’s guilt, Yale explicitly says they have to come from two teachers. This is one of the situations where that probably won’t fit in.

And just because they haven’t taught you in an academic setting, um, if this would probably fit in as in additional supplemental, uh, recommendation in that case. Um, but if you do want to make it your primary, uh, recommender, um, You could do that at a school where they don’t necessarily like explicitly state where your recommenders need to come from.

Um, that being said, we do recommend that your primary recommenders are teachers just because the colleges are looking for that specifically. Um, yeah. It all will make sense when you look on the platform. Cause like, when I was asking for my [00:39:00] recommendation recommender, I asked my assistant principal at my school and I put her in as a teacher recommended recommender and she literally told me that the platform wouldn’t even let her because she wasn’t a teacher.

So, um, there are specific sections for different types of recommenders. Um, if a college doesn’t require a letter of recommendation, can you still submit, uh, can you still submit one if colleges don’t require letters, right? Uh, again, it depends on the school. Um, Some schools will just say no, and you won’t even have an option to do it on the common app.

Um, some schools, uh, won’t require it and we’ll recommend it in which case, um, submit one to, um, or up to up to three, I’d say, um, again, just using that format of two teachers plus one guidance counselor. Um, okay. So, um, [00:40:00] so there are a few questions about the literal Brack sheets. So the one person ask if there’s some sort of template that they can find on, um, creating a Brexit and then another person asks, like, how do you get started on the BRAC sheet?

Um, like how do you, how do you do the BRAC sheet? Pretty much, right? Yeah. Um, so there, you can do a Google search for some of them. Um, I mean, honestly, that’s how most people get their templates for the resumes anyway. Um, Uh, again, we, this is a recorded, uh, webinars, so you should have access to that one slide that where we posted our recommendations, um, you will just need at least like those pieces of information.

Um, and that’s what you should include on there. Um, yeah. Uh, okay. So, um, another person asks with regards to like relationships. How do you develop a good relationship with teachers in the virtual environment without signing sounding like you’re [00:41:00] asking for, um, the lacquer, the letter of recommendation, or trying to take advantage of it?

Like how do you make a genuine relationship? Yeah. Yeah. Um, the, we do that is you probably just don’t want to ask, just send an email. Um, you may want to do, if, if you have zoom office hours right now, that’s an opportunity right there. You may also want to just have even like a 30 minute conversation where it’s.

Clear that you’re going to ask for a letter of recommendation, but you just spent 30 minutes talking about, um, I, you know, well, it’s not face to face it’s over the computer, but you know, at least like you have the zoom screen with your camera on and you’re able to talk to this, uh, this teacher. Um, so I actually almost applied to grad school last year.

Um, and again, I graduated in 2018, so I haven’t really talked to my professors that much since I guess, 20 18, 19 20, I applied in last year, 2020. So, so yeah, and like 2, [00:42:00] 3, 3 years. And, um, I reached out to them and was just like, let’s have a 30 minute catch up zoom calls. So you see how things are going.

How’s how’s, how’s the L um, um, you know, this is what I’m doing. Like I’m, I’m busy working for a law firm. And we just had like a 20 minute, 30 minute chat before I was, I dropped the question. Um, and we just talked about like the subjects that I took in school. Um, and yeah. Um, that’s, that’s one way to do it again.

Like teachers know that this is, this is part of, well, it’s not part of their job, but like it’s expected. So, um, you’re not, you’re not just using your teacher. Uh, you’ve had them, they’ve taught you, uh, that’s their job. Um, and so hopefully, uh, they, they know that step also just doing good in their class and making sure you’re doing your assignments, like just being a good student, [00:43:00] participating, not like if you’re virtual, keeping your cameras on teachers really love that this year just general stuff you would do to be a good student, but then.

Chatting a little bit. Um, so we’re going to ask one more question before I do the quick little pop-up, but um, one person asks during the presentation, you said that we could ask for recommendation recommendations from other figures aside from teachers or counselors. Does it mean I can ask for a relative who taught me during homeschool for letters of recommendation.

So this kind of double yeah. Relative, right. Okay. So in general, um, I think colleges do like to have it from more, um, again, so, um, ideally not someone in your family, um, [00:44:00] but you graze up the question of homeschooling and I know that’s a little bit more difficult. Again, this depends on the schools that you’re applying to.

And this is actually, um, accessible information by just, you know, using the internet. Um, you can find out what specific schools ask for from homeschool applications. Um, I honestly just did a search right before this, anticipating this question, Yale and Barnard, for example, um, have the same requirements for homeschool students that they have for, uh, non homeschool students, uh, when it comes to letters of recommendation.

So in those, you know, there are other, hopefully other mentor figures in your, in your life, uh, that you can ask for. It could honestly even be like your librarian, uh, your local librarian that you like talk about books about, um, talk with about books that you’ve like checked out. Um, ideally you maybe have taken like a class at your local community college.[00:45:00]

Um, you have an, uh, an independent, uh, a relationship with someone who isn’t in your family. Who’s taught you like an AP class or just any other class. Uh, um, there are ways to find other adult figures, uh, to write you a letter of recommendation. Um, some schools will allow you to include employers if you’re homeschooled and you don’t have a teacher, um, community service, uh, there are other figures out there that you could write.

Okay, so we’re going to do a quick pop-up, but once I work one-on-one with one of our, um, with, with an advisor, from our team of over 155 advisors and admissions offices sign up for a free consultation, um, by going to and clicking the green chat button in the bottom, right of the screen from there, just write consultation and a live team member will get back to you to help coordinate your [00:46:00] free consultation with us.

Okay. So here’s the popups. You can click that to go there. Um, so yeah. Um, now back to the Q and a SU, let me see, like, uh, okay. There we go. Yeah, just, you can just click X. Um, yeah, it’s a lot going on. Um, I made it, you know, I’m an advisor by the way. Um, Mackenzie is also an advisor. Yeah, it’s, uh, there’s a lot of slides, a lot of knowledge over here.

Uh, okay. So can you ask for additional, um, teachers and end up not using no letters? Like if you decide not to apply to a school last minute, um, that requires three recommend, like, can you just tell them no and not use it pretty much? Yeah. Um, it’s yeah, you [00:47:00] can ethically, it’s not like the best thing to do, but you can end up doing that.

Um, just you won’t like, you just won’t assign their name to a school and it’ll just sit in the common app and, and weather.

Um, okay. Um, I’m going to ask a question from the pre panel. Um,

Uh, when is the best time to ask for recommendation? So I saw some questions like with regards to like regular decision versus early. When’s a good time. Yeah. Um, like we said, you know, um, late junior year is probably the best time, uh, again, because some of you will probably end up applying early and those, uh, deadlines are coming up, you know, uh, November mainly.

Um, so if you ask before the summer, that’ll give your [00:48:00] teachers plenty of time to start brainstorming, um, and even drafting the liar. Uh, okay. This one’s a bit niche. I think it’s, well, it’s not niche, but it’s asking like, non-teacher recommenders. So like, can you ask for a recommendation letter from a teacher, um, from a, like a college prep.

That’s a good question. I hadn’t, I haven’t ever encountered that. Um, and I would err, on the, on the edge of saying no, well, I mean you, you could, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Um, again, just because if I were an admissions officer, it was sort of raised eyebrows, um, in the sense of just like, why is this student not asking for a letter of recommendation from their [00:49:00] actual, uh, teacher in their school?

Um, you know, the different question to hear like a homeschool student, I guess that would make a little bit more sense. Um, but if you’re, you know, attending school normally, or I guess virtually now, um, you would, um, get from school or else, like again, you risk the. Um, there’s potential for raising eyebrows of just like, this is such a stellar student.

I don’t, they have a good relationship with her teachers in school. I think that’s a great answer. And I also think it could depend on like, if you’re paying this college prep teacher or if they’re like, um, volunteer, cause that could have conflict of interest. And then, um, they may be good for like an other category.

Like the schools have like one for teachers and then they have the other recommenders. So they may be better for that. Like, I got a recommendation from my, um, college, not college advisor, like here, [00:50:00] but from a summer program I was in, um, but they were listed as other and it was like a nonprofit organization.

So I wasn’t like paying them. So I guess it depends. Uh, so we ran out of questions on the actual QA. So I’ll just go through some from the, um, the chat, um, from the free panel. Um, okay. Uh, where were the general themes? Okay. Um,

you’re retired or epic. Oh yeah. I just thought that was one question that I think is a, is a really good, um, is it good teach, come and go from here either they get new jobs elsewhere or they retire. Um, in that case, it’s[00:51:00]

a mixture. If your teacher is retiring, going to another school, but that you take the initiative of maintaining that relationship, um, throughout the year so that they, so the colleges now that they’re not seeing this snapshot snapshot of, uh, shock, sorry. I mean, from a year ago, uh, they’re getting a snapshot from.

Um, so before we leave or they retired, feel free to ask for their well, um, you know, have a conversation with them, congratulate them on their next moves in their lives. Um, and then Ashley mentioned, like, I’m thinking of, you know, asking for a letter of recommendation from you within the next year, if possible.

Like, um, I would love to continue to maintain this relationship. Um, would you provide me with your email address and your phone number, whatever. Um, and [00:52:00] again, here’s bill, they’ll say yes. They’ll say no. Um, and you can proceed from there. Uh, so another homeschooled question. So does being a homeschooled student mean that I won’t be required to have a letter of recommendation if for some reason the only mentors or, or people that could write for me are closely related to me.

Um, so again, it depends on the school. But like, I, like I said, uh, ELL Barnard, uh, for example, these are two schools that I looked at right before. Um, they require letters of recommendation from people that aren’t your parents. Um, I think that’s like the explicit bare minimum, at least someone that isn’t your parent.

Um, so there is some leeway if you like want to do like an uncle or aunt, but again, still not the best option. The best option is someone who’s not related to you just primarily because [00:53:00] they want objectivity and having a close personal relationship is, uh, you know, uh, can result in a conflict of interest.

Like clearly these people want you to do well. Um, if they are homeschooling you and also, you know, like, Um, also relating it, writing your letters of recommendations. So there colleges have a have reason to worry that they won’t necessarily like highlight if there’s anything where you still areas of growth potentially.

So, um, depending on, on where you are, uh, there is still time to reach out to other members of your community and like, think about, um, the strategizing the passport.

Uh, okay. Um, okay. So the person that asked about the college prep class had a follow-up. Um, so [00:54:00] they said, um, for the question about the college prep, my school doesn’t offer a business class and business is something I plan to major in. So would it be okay to ask them because I’m currently taking a course at that college.

I put a little, I think this is a very interesting college prep because, sorry for me, what college prep means is like, they’re helping you with your sat scores, uh, not necessarily like helping you with again, like take an academic course in business. Um, still though, I would encourage you to, um, to, uh, aim for your teachers from your, um, actual school.

Um, and again, like, it doesn’t necessarily have to align with the, your actual intended major. Like for me, my school didn’t offer AP psychology or even regular [00:55:00] psychology for that matter. So that’s why I opted for biology. You know, it’s like still like tangentially related, but not directly. Um, if you’re an economics or business major, there is still your history teacher, um, your government teacher, um, if, if that’s offered, um, you just want to make sure that they’re in these, in these wide buckets.

So, you know, um, there are the social sciences, the physical sciences or natural sciences and the humanities. Um, those are the three buckets that schools categorize, uh, subjects in. Um, and I guess the arts, but that’s a non-academic, uh, non-academic um, according to them. Um, so yeah, you want to want to make sure that, um, your recommendations come from those buckets, at least not necessarily like so specific that it’s subject, uh, I guess.

Okay. Since we don’t have one for the chat, I’ll just go over like a general theme. So like, [00:56:00] um, so like what types of like relationships, um, with the teachers should, should sort of signal to students like, Hey, this may be a good person to ask or like what, what should be a signal to look out for, um, for knowing who to ask pretty much, right.

Yeah. I think honestly, if it’s a teacher that you can have a casual conversation in the hallway, um, that may be some, someone that you want to ask. Um, just like you want, you want to be able to have a level of comfort with, with them that you would be able to sustain a conversation with them that isn’t necessarily about the subject for longer than like two minutes.

Um, and so that’s, I think like how you go about. You know, that’s, that’s the main signal I would look for. Um, yeah. Uh, so we [00:57:00] had one more question and the webinar ends in a few minutes, so I think we can get through maybe one or two, but would a band teacher count as a teacher recommendation letter? Um, do I think the way to answer that is, do you get a grade in that class?

Um, and if you get a grade in there, um, I think, yes. Um, but again, you probably want to aim for someone in academic stuff. Um, so, you know, going back to the buckets that he is, so in English, um, reading, writing, um, any of those classes, um, the sciences bio can, uh, uh, physics, uh, social sciences, history, government economics, um, yeah, those are, oh, does it include the maths?

I guess maths fall under sciences, [00:58:00] so yeah. Um, those are preferred like core versus electives, so, yeah. Yeah. Okay. Exactly. Thank you. Um, which we call it. Uh, should I only ask for teachers that are in my. Yeah. So I know, again, this is something that I want, I tried to touch, uh, touch on earlier. Um, you want to be able to way, um, I can the need for teachers in your major or subject area, um, against how well you actually know this teachers.

Um, and you want to weigh your relationship with them more so than actually fitting the teachers into like the two different buckets. Um, because you, you know, these are, these are, uh, if a teacher knows you better, they’ll be able to write you a better [00:59:00] recommendation. Um, in general than let’s say having one teacher who knows you, well, one teacher who doesn’t really know you well, uh, I’d much rather prefer to be reading two letters of recommendation from two teachers who know you.

Well, even if it’s in the S even if it’s not in your. Um, so, so I guess the short answer is no, you shouldn’t only enter teachers in your major, you, uh, the way to think about it is like you should be aiming for teachers that know you well, and it helps if they’re in your major. I think that’s a great point to end on.

You really want somebody that can talk about you. Like, not necessarily just, it doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with what you want to study in. It really does help because they want to know that you do good in your subject that you’re interested in, but it’s more so about, um, what they can say about you, not necessarily what they teach.

Right. Also, because again, if you’re [01:00:00] good at your subject, that’s probably going to showing you a transcript, um, or your sat subject tasks or your AP scores, you know, there are other places that a school can tell that you were, that you’re excelling in. Um, sorry, Mackenzie, one last point also, if like there’s like a famous person or something that, you know, and you’re thinking about getting a letter of recommendation from, I dunno, like Sonya sorta more you or something.

Um, that’s cool. But if she doesn’t know you, that probably won’t add much. Um, so, um, aim for people who knew you well is, uh, the. Takeaway from this. That is


I would like to see somebody do that now. That would be interesting. Okay. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our panelists. Just know that you can always sign up for an [01:01:00] advisor or you can like, if you have a quick little quick. You can just email. Um, and if you already have an advisor, you can always ask them, um, that, so that is the end of the webinar.

We had a really great time telling you about asking for letters of recommendation and here’s the rest of our July series. So we have a lot of things coming up and look out for our August series. Cause there’s going to be a lot of stuff on the actual application processes, processes, um, and a bunch of other quote topics and just know that this webinar will be recorded and posted.

And you can also download the slides in the handouts tab, uh, in case you miss something or want to review something over. Um, just so you don’t feel like you’re going to miss something, but again, thank you, Roger. That was lovely. I’m to stop recording.