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How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter and How to Pick the Right Candidate for the Job

February 12, 2023 Dean Domingo

Recommendation letters are a key aspect of high school applications and are a great way to demonstrate your character and abilities from another perspective. While not mandatory in some schools, it’s highly encouraged and should be seen as a requirement. But, who do you ask for a recommendation letter? Choosing who to ask is very important and should be someone that has seen your growth as a student. Most schools usually require at least one recommendation letter from a core teacher (Math, Science, Social Studies, etc) and one letter from either another teacher, mentor, coach, or counselor. So after making a list of potential candidates take some time to consider a very important question. “Who knows you the most?”. If you choose a candidate that barely knows you, their letter may sound disingenuous and phony. So when selecting a recommender, you should consider someone who has had a significant impact on your life and should be someone who knows you both academically and personally and can attest to your abilities, interests, achievements, and growth.

Once you’ve selected a teacher, coach, etc you should take the time to talk. Ask them politely and respectfully, highlighting your interest and providing a clear explanation of the purpose of the recommendation. You should also mention when the application deadline is, and any other relevant information you may want to include (i.e. grades and achievements). After you’ve asked your recommenders and they’ve accepted your offer don’t start immediately asking them for progress reports. Let them take their time with your recommendation so it can be the best it can be. If you want to find out how their letter is going, ask them a couple of weeks afterward.

Recommendation letters are a critical part of the high school application process. But you shouldn’t just ask the first people that come to mind. Choosing the ideal candidate is someone who has had a significant impact on your life and can attest to your abilities, interests, achievements, and growth. It’s only once you’ve found someone who fits this description that you should consider them for such a task. After choosing your candidates, you should take your time to politely and respectfully ask them for permission by providing a clear explanation of the purpose. Lastly, once they’ve accepted your offer, be patient with them and allow them to make your letter the best it can be. By choosing the right people, effectively communicating with them, and following up with them, you can increase your chances of standing out amongst the crowd and achieving your goal of attending your dream school. 

Xavier High School Sophomore Dean Domingo

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