Everyone has heard that junior year is the most important year in high school. Students think this means good grades and to load their plates with extracurriculars. Although this is true, another part of junior year is building positive relationships with teachers and counselors so at the end of the year, you can ask these teachers for college recommendations.
Most colleges and universities require one to three recommendation letters from a guidance counselor and at least one teacher. Most of the time, recommendation letters are submitted electronically through the specific university’s system.
The subject of the teacher that the recommendation comes from depends on different factors. If a student knows they are going to major in biology and is passionate about science, they should ask for a recommendation from their biology teacher or junior year science teacher. It is important that these teachers are from junior year. “Colleges want recommendations from teachers who taught you closest to your experience at college. If you have no junior year teachers you feel you could ask, you can ask a 10th grade teacher but definitely not a ninth grade teacher,” guidance counselor Arielle Markiewicz said.
Other times, colleges will ask for specific content when it comes to recommendations, which will narrow down who the recommendation is from. There are colleges who want English recommendations, others who want math, and there are also colleges who do not have a preference. There are also colleges who don’t ask for recommendations at all.
Once a student has decided who they will ask to write their recommendations, they have to ask them. Asking for a recommendation is not as easy as asking a teacher for help one day, which students can email about. “When asking for a recommendation it is important to ask face to face and use proper manners. Also remember your teacher is doing you a favor, so it is important to be appreciative,” guidance counselor Elizabeth Robinson said.
Guidance counselors each have about 70 letters of recommendation to write over the summer. Robinson has students fill out a paper with information about them to help her get better sense of students and what they are looking for in their recommendation. Other teachers, like Athletic Director and English teacher Alton Lightsey, write about 20 each year. “College recommendations are time consuming,” Lightsey said.
Students ask for college recommendation letters at the end of their junior year. There are teachers who will write them over the summer but other teachers take their time off in the summer and wait until the start of the school year to write them. Students should check in with the teachers they asked for recommendations from at the beginning of senior year to confirm.
Teachers have mixed emotions about writing these recommendations. “I don’t feel like I’m the best writer however I enjoy it because in some cases it really helps colleges understand kids more than just their grades. However colleges don’t always look, which can be frustrating,” Robinson said.