Counselor Recommendations

The Other Essays that are "All About You": Your Recommendations

John Carpenter is back this month to remind students that there are some other essays that are "all about you" -- the recommendations from your counselor and teachers. Read on for his tips on how to get the best writing -- that is, the best results!

In applying to college, writing is enormously important because good writing tells us something we need to know. I spend a lot of time talking to students about writing their essays, and I usually enjoy reading what people have written and hearing the stories.  While there’s a lot of emphasis on creating the perfect essay, there’s another kind of writing where students also have some influence and most high school kids don’t even think about it -- and that’s the recommendations.

Yep, recommendations.  Those other great little essays that are all about you, written by your teachers and counselor.  If you think it’s tough to write a personal statement for an application and a couple of short supplement essays as well, imagine what it’s like for your high school English teacher who is probably writing about 15 or 20 essays--er, I mean, recommendations--for her students.  And then there’s your counselor who, depending on how big your graduating class is, could be writing 15 or 20 -- or even as many as 100 or more.  Seriously! 

Guess what, students? You're in Control!

John Carpenter is back this month with some thoughts about who is really in the driver's seat during the college application process. While it might feel like the college admission offices are steering, if you pay attention you'll see that students have the wheel much of the time. Read on and reevaluate what you've been feeling if things are feeling out of control.

One thing I hear constantly from high school kids over and over is that applying to college is stressful.  And psychologists tell us that stress comes from a feeling that we are not in control -- especially the big stuff.  Getting into college falls into the “big stuff” category. But students have more control in this whole process than they may realize. So, let’s analyze that.

Seniors: Have you requested your Letters of Recommendation?

Most private colleges -- and more and more public universities -- require letters of recommendation from one or two classroom teachers of academic subjects and the high school guidance or college counselor. Make the job easier for the teachers and counselor who will write your recommendations by providing them with a list of the colleges to which you are applying, deadlines for the recommendations and any required forms. In order to get the best result, it may also be helpful to provide the teachers who are writing your recommendations with an updated list of activities and any honors you have received, as well as a note telling them why you have chosen them to write for you.

If you have not requested these letters of recommendation, do so immediately by speaking in person with your teachers and counselor.  And don’t forget to check the policies and guidelines for recommendations of both your high school and the colleges to which you're applying to be sure all requirements are being met.

And don't forget to say thank you!