How To Get A Recommendation
By: Lesley Ofori Antwi, A High School Student
Recommendations are an essential part of any college application. They are often required on applications to colleges and scholarships as well.Though a lucky few may never need to obtain a recommendation, the vast majority of people who wish to go to college or receive a scholarship will need at least one recommendation to achieve this. If you’ve been looking for advice on how to get a recommendation, look no further.
When thinking about who to ask for a recommendation, you should consider people who have seen a positive change in you, people who know enough about you to write an essay, and people that can vouch for your character. This includes teachers, administrators, extracurricular activity advisors, and even a boss. You can also attain a recommendation from friends, family, and clergy, however, this may not always work to your advantage as these people carry an obvious bias and may not have the experience in writing recommendations to provide you with a stellar one. As a safety precaution, always ask 1 more recommender than you need just in case one of them falls out.
The central idea of a recommendation should be about you as a person. Colleges and scholarship judges can tell your academic aptitude from your transcripts but to know more about you, specifically how other people perceive you, they will look at a recommendation. Be sure to ask someone that can write about more than what you did in the classroom. The recommender should be able to write about your actions as a student and as an individual. Also, mention to your recommender that they should not refrain from adding a few criticisms. This shows that you are a “real person” because there is no such thing as perfect but, you want to come as close as possible.
Based on what type of application you are filling out the recommendation can be added to many mediums. Most are taken electronically over the site where you will submit the whole application such as the Common App, CUNY Portal, and more. However, if a college requests your recommender can post the recommendation in the mail.
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO ASK FOR A RECOMMENDATION! This is something that recommenders hate and will certainly cause them to write a less-than-great recommendation if they agree to do it at all. Make sure to allow a recommender at least 30 days to write for you. The more time that you give them, the better the recommendation will be.
Besides the fact that most colleges require recommendations, having people put in a good word for you shows that you are more than your grades. Recommendations are a way for colleges and scholarship judges to be able to set you apart from the thousands of other applicants, so make a wise decision to whom you will give this power.
When requesting a recommendation from someone, you want to approach them with respect because you are asking them for a favor. The best way to ask is to meet up with them in person when you know that they are not extremely busy. This could be during their lunch, after-school, or anytime that you see them on a break. If they accept, which they almost always will make sure to follow up with them through email and keep an open line of communication.
Do not forget that you are not allowed to read a recommendation before you send it to a college, which is why taking the proper steps and making the right decisions is imperative. Give people a lot of reasons to write great things about you and very few reasons to write criticism and you will be just fine.