Teacher Recommendations: Everything You Need to Know

Navya Jayaprakash
Edited by Alexandra Ichim
Published on
September 25, 2023

With college applications comes the stress of teacher recommendations. This is an aspect of your college application that you should keep in mind from the beginning of your Junior year. Having close relationships with your teachers and being an active student in their classroom can help you stand out. This includes going to extra help, consistently participating in class, and doing something as small as saying “Good morning” to your teacher. The following are some easy tips to follow when it comes to teacher recommendations.

  1. Be early! The earlier you ask for a recommendation, the more likely your teacher is to spend more time on it. An ideal time to ask would be May-June of your junior year before they receive tons of requests from other students.
  2. Ask in person! Visiting your teacher’s classroom and politely asking for a recommendation is much better than emailing them because it shows that you're willing to put in more effort and interact with them. It’s easy for an email to sound more impolite or demanding than speaking to someone verbally.
  3. Pick teachers carefully! Think about the major you are interested in and whether that teacher is best for it. It wouldn’t be ideal for you to pick an Art teacher, if you are majoring in engineering. However, this is not always the case. For example, if you have a close relationship with your English teacher, but are majoring in Biology, maybe this teacher’s recommendation would be good because it matches up with some of your extracurriculars as well.
  4. Following up! Make sure to let your teachers know in advance if a college application is due in advance (assuming you don’t ask your Junior Year). You can do this through email, but meeting face-to-face may give you an immediate update on the status of your recommendation. It’s important to keep in mind that teachers (especially Junior year) will be busy writing recommendations for other students as well.
  5. Answer questions wisely! If your teacher asks you to fill out a form or answer some questions about being a student in their class, it is usually because they will be using this information to write about you in the recommendation. This is a valuable opportunity for you to match any stories or skills you built in that class to your major along with the core values of your university. Do some research! 
  6. Sign away your FERPA right! Although not explicitly said, disagreeing to sign away this right would hint to college admission officers that you have something to hide. If you picked teachers that have seen you grow as a student in their class, there is no reason you should have to read their recommendations.  

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