This video will help you, and whomever you approach for a letter of recommendation, to understand the impact of recommendations on your overall college application. The overarching goal of a great letter of recommendation is to tell a story about the student. Prior to requesting letters of recommendation, review The Common Data Set for each of your schools and note the areas considered ‘Very Important’ by each of your schools—grades, character, gifts/talents, etc. Share this information with those whom you approach for recommendations so that they may incorporate some of these attributes into their recommendation letter.

Important to Note:

  • Colleges are looking for how a student ‘fits’ into their institution by helping admissions officers to better understand the student.
  • Letters of recommendation provide a context for more fully understanding a student’s application
  • Focus of Teacher Recommendation: Tell a story about the student and their performance and engagement in class and within the high school.
  • Focus of Counselor Recommendation: Provide a context of the school, community, available opportunities, and how the student maximized available opportunities.
  • Intangibles: Teamwork; what student will bring to the college community; how the student engaged in their studies; how the student participated in, and what the student brought to, the classroom experience; the student’s social maturity, passion for learning, and intellectual curiosity. Challenges the student has faced and obstacles the student has overcome. What makes the student stands out?
  • The recommendation should be personalized about the student and does not have to suggest that the student is the ‘best’ student, but should reaffirm that the student is a ‘good’ person and would be a good ‘fit’ for the college or scholarship.