Many Colleges require letters of recommendations. However, many do not. As a good guideline, Common Application requests two (2) Teacher letter of recommendations from core academic subjects taken preferably Junior year AND a Counselor letter of recommendation/school report. These letters should also be diverse in nature either by subject (Math & Science vs. English, Social Studies, Language) or in content (a class in which the student excelled and struggled) as long as letters can be written from a positive standpoint.
Ask, in person for positive letters of recommendation in the Spring of Junior year through the end of the Junior year. Find out what the teacher needs from you to be able to write effectively (ie: junior interview packet, resume or CV, AP test scores, paragraph explaining what you liked about their class)
Find out how the person prefers to submit materials (Paper vs Online/Electronic).
If preference is for Online/Electronic version, make sure you have the correct e-mail address for the Teacher/Counselor. Send link to recommender asap! You do not have to wait until your portion is complete &/or submitted.
If preference if for e-mail, please provide your Counselor the correct e-mail address for the college to which you would like the recommendation submitted.
If preference is for Paper version, provide Teachers/Counselor the appropriate form and a standard business size envelope (approx 4x9) stamped envelope pre-addressed to the college for EACH college to which their recommendation should be sent.
Check-in again during the fall (well before deadlines) to thank them in advance, let them know where you are applying & make sure you know how they would like to submit the recommendation. Also, helps to remind teachers that you are counting on them for a letter of recommendation & your deadlines.
Be aware of processing timelines (allow at least 2-3 weeks, more time is very appreciated during college app rush Mid-Sept - Nov 1) in relation to College Specific Deadlines!
SAY THANK YOU! Follow-up in person and with a thank you note to let the teachers where you were accepted & plan to attend.
From Teachers Many teachers will go over their recommendation process in class during the spring. If you plan on asking a teacher who class you no longer have the best time to touch base is early May. It is extremely helpful to for students to provide teachers with a resume/list of important activities (and why they are important) and/or copy of their Junior Interview Packet. Teachers also like to know what you liked about their class and why you chose to ask them for a recommendation.
From Counselors Due to the volume of letters requested/required of Counselors, we ask that you request letters during your Junior Year Interview (interview packets, see below). This should be a topic of discussion based on the types of colleges in which students are interested. In order to write a letter of recommendation students MUST complete the Junior Interview Packet, see below! Additional information is always helpful, especially if your Interview took place early in the school year. The Senior Update Sheet (available in Counseling Office, Records Office or for download below) is also helpful in making sure we address your most important attributes and the things students were unable to cover in their own application portion.
From Other Sources Check with the person you are asking what they prefer or follow guidelines for teachers.
ALWAYS follow up with the people who took time to write recommendations by writing a Thank You Note, letting them know where you were accepted and chose to attend.