Most private, selective colleges require one or two recommendations from teachers. The majority of schools that use the Common Application require at least one academic teacher letter and one from your counselor. In most cases large, public colleges and universities do not require letters of recommendation. Please check your college admission website to determine if and how many letters are required.
Guidelines and Protocols
- Confirm that you actually need a letter of recommendation before asking a teacher for one! You should also confirm how many letters are required/accepted by each college. Please do not make extra work for a teacher is a letter is not required!
- Request in person four weeks before a letter is required (prior to deadline)*. Faculty do not want to write recommendations for students who simply leave notes on their desks or email them. It is also best to ask privately rather than in the lunch area or in a classroom full of students. * October 3rd for November 1 deadlines. December 3rd for all Regular Deadlines (Same as Transcript Request).
- Provide your teacher with a copy of your resume and either the Stduent Prompts completed for Mr. Bergman and/or the Student Information Request-LoR form. Please do so completely and legibly prior to the above deadlines.
- Once you have asked for a recommendation you MUST make an electronic request through Naviance (instructions below).
Which teacher(s) should you ask?
- Ask a teacher who knows you well. Colleges prefer that letters are from teachers whom you have had for junior or senior core-level subjects. Sophomore teachers will occasionally write a letter.
- The teacher who gave you the highest grade may not be the one to write you the best recommendation; it is more important that a teacher knows you well.
- Ask teachers who will write the strongest letters, even if they are in similar subject areas. However, check your college requirements for recommenders - some colleges require one from a humanities course, and another from a math or science course.
- Consider talking to teachers of courses in which you have overcome obstacles to demonstrate significant improvement and perseverance, even if it was not your strongest subject.
Who sends the letters of recommendation?
All recommendation letters are sent directly from the teachers or counselors who write them (most are sent electronically through Naviance), not from students. School policy prohibits the teacher or counselor from providing you the letter, even in a sealed envelope. The colleges and scholarship organizations want to ensure that the teacher/counselor's writing is a candid appraisal of your ability. Thus, letters must be confidential.
Requesting Letters of Recommendation through Naviance
In order to request Letters of Recommendation electronically through Naviance, your Common App and Naviance accounts must be matched. To do so you must first sign the FERPA Waiver. When doing so most college admissions offices recommend that you waive your access to a letter of recommendation. It is widely held that letters of recommendation do not have the same credibility with the colleges unless students waive their right of access. See What is the FERPA? for more information.
Directions for requesting Teacher Letters of Recommendation through Naviance:
- Log in to your Naviance account
- On the top bar click on Colleges
- Under Apply to College click on Letters of Recommendation
- Click on Add Request
- Select the teacher from the dropdown menu and include a note
- Click on Submit Request
Please note that colleges must be added to your Colleges I’m applying to list in order to request recommendations.
Again, most of your recommendations will be submitted electronically through Naviance. There are a few selective colleges that ask students to invite teachers/counselors to submit recommendations electronically on their behalf (Georgetown and MIT, e.g.,). For these schools you will enter your teacher and counselor emails directly into your application. Please confirm with your recommenders that the email invitation was received.
Some colleges accept additional recommendations from non-Pine View affiliated staff, individuals who can attest to your accomplishments and character in other settings (e.g., coaches, mentors, supervisors, professors). "Outside recommenders" should be electronically invited through the Common Application.
- Write a thank-you note to your teachers for taking the time to write your letter.
- Please keep your recommenders apprised regarding admissions decisions. We care, that’s why we write. At the end of the process, please let us know where you have decided to attend.