If you want to apply for college, graduate schools, scholarships or even employment opportunities, you should know that the recommendation letter can make a big difference, so here are 7 secrets of a stellar recommendation letter that you should know. College is an exciting time for any student because it gives them the opportunity to mingle with some of the brightest academics in the world. That opportunity to interact with college faculty is often rewarded with the ultimate scholarly prize, the recommendation letter. Try to seize this opportunity because a letter of recommendation is very useful at several points in life. Here are a few secrets of a stellar recommendation letter that you should know:
1. Pick the Right Teachers
One of the most important secrets of a stellar recommendation letter is knowing how to pick the right teachers. Keep in mind that your primary recommenders should be in your core academic subjects in your Senior or even in your Junior year. Try to select someone who could watch you grow and improve and don’t use letters of recommendations from coaches, violin teachers or shop teachers.
2. Build Healthy Relationships with Your Teachers
Be careful on this one because the earlier you build good relations with your teachers, the more likely they will write a letter of recommendation for you. Be the type of student whom your teacher recalls as studious, courteous and responsible. Also, work on improving your grades because students with poor past performance might not get the answer they want.
3. Meet with Your Teachers before You Ask for a Letter
If you want to ask one of your teachers to write you a stellar recommendation letter, then make sure you meet with them at least one month in advance. During that meeting, give them a copy of your resume because the more information they have about you, the more they can customize the recommendation letter to show why you are such a great candidate.
4. Help Your Teacher as Much as You Can
If you want to make a good impression and get a stellar recommendation letter from one of your teachers, then try to help them as much as you can. Ask them if they need help with certain things that are related to the activities they do in the classroom and offer to help out.
5. Provide Your Recommender with the Materials They Need
A lot of experts have concluded that it’s the student’s job to make the writing process as easy as possible for the recommender, so provide your teacher with all the materials they need. Try to anticipate every question your teacher might have (like “Why are you applying for this?” or “What makes you qualified?”) and be prepared to answer these questions because this way, you will stand out from the crowd.
6. Consider the Recommender’s Workload
Don’t ask for a letter of recommendation too close to the application deadline because this can put your teacher in an awkward position. In that case, your teacher might simply pull a template letter out of the pile and this letter won’t speak about your particular skills or abilities. Because they will not have enough time to write a good recommendation letter, some teachers might just whip something together that won’t be so flattering.
7. Offer Compelling Reasons for Your Request
According to Zachary Schaefer, an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, “how a student asks for a recommendation speaks volumes to their character and thought process.” This can leave a lasting impression on your teacher and it can be a determining factor as to whether or not they agree to write the recommendation that you want.
Getting a stellar recommendation letter from one of your teachers is not that hard, you just need to know that there are a few steps you can take to obtain it. Do you know any other secrets of a stellar recommendation letter? Please tell us about them in the comments section!