Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recommendation Time!

It seems almost impossible, but it is that time of year when Juniors will be asked to secure their letters of recommendation for next Fall. Juniors have been given a form in Advisory where they can collect their recommender's signature as a confirmation that they will be writing on their behalf. In the Fall, they will take the same form around to remind the teacher of the agreement and confirm that they will still be getting a letter from that recommender. Another copy of the form can be found here (scroll to the bottom and download the 'Recommendation Confirmation from Teachers' form).

This form is due back to me no later than June 9th.

Some teachers may also require students submit additional information in order for a letter to be written. They may request a resume or a form that describes a little about the student and their involvement. A general template of one of these forms can also be found on the ElRo website, on the Class of 2011 page by downloading the 'Teacher Rec Request Form.' When a student gets a confirmation signature they are encouraged to ask about any of these extra stipulations.

Students are encouraged to ask two teachers to write a letter of recommendation their behalf. These two teachers can be from any class year and can know the student in any capacity (classroom, extra curricular, sport team, adviser, etc). However, it is a good idea to balance the recommendations and not have them come from only one department or only one year of instruction.

More than two teacher recommendations is typically not recommended. There is a universal joke in admissions offices about the thick files. Unfortunately the joke is on the applicant-- in their effort to come across as outstanding, they stand out for submitting way too much. If you need 5 or 6 recommendation letters, what are you trying to prove? For what are you compensating? Trust in the people you select and stick with two teachers and a guidance letter. Each letter should add a new dimension to your application. Can a third teacher really cover something the other two have not already mentioned?

Finally, be polite when asking a teacher to write for you. They are not mandated to do help with this task, so any show of respect is greatly encouraged. Don't assume that someone will definitely take time from their busy schedule to vouch for you. Remember, you are always working on your recommendation in the way you act and are perceived. Your behavior in the hallways, academic honesty in all subjects, and attendance are factors in the tone of the letters you will receive. Even though this is a task that requires action right now, this is something in the making from the first day you walked through the door at ElRo. 9th and 10th grade students take note, you have already started the college process through interactions you have each day.