If your seniors haven’t already done so, they need to contact the teachers they want to write their letters of recommendation now to allow them plenty of time. You want teachers that know your child well, hopefully in and out of the classroom. You want them to be your child’s biggest cheerleader. To find the right person, have your child ask if they can write a Strong letter of recommendation. If they can’t, find another teacher.
Usually you will need letters from two teachers from 11-12 grade who have taught close to the college level (AP or Honors). Some colleges specify one letter in math or science and one letter from English, foreign language, or social studies.
Help recommenders do a better job for your child by writing them a letter explaining the things that would be helpful to emphasize as well as explaining the colleges they will be writing for. They also need to be reminded that one letter will be sent to all colleges, thus no specific college should be named.
It is also important to let them know how they will be contacted. Many parents have the mistaken idea that they are to gather up all the letters themselves to send to the college. Because of the high level of fraud in today’s college application marketplace, this move will invalidate your child’s letters. In fact, you should never see a recommender’s letter!
When your child is filling out the Common Application or other online application, your student will be asked to give the names and email addresses of their recommenders. Be sure to have your student waive their right to ever see the recommendation. Then, the online venue will contact the recommenders and invite them to fill out information about the student and upload their letter of recommendation. You can check the status of their upload via the online process.
If any of the colleges still utilize snail mail, give the teachers the forms required by the college (with your student’s signature waiving their right to ever see the recommendation), and postage paid, pre-addressed Fed Ex mailers with the teacher’s address in the return. You want to be able to track the package and see that they have been mailed. If you are getting close to a deadline, a gentle reminder is in order.
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