Human Chromosomes (SEM)

AP Biology

Framingham High School- Dr. Langdon (email)

Requesting College References

     Letters of recommendation help flesh out your college application, and provide admission committees with a better picture of who you are as a person and what unique features would make you a good fit for a particular college.
     Most teachers are truly honored that you value their opinion enough to ask for a recommendation letter.  They are among the most difficult tasks teachers have; a good letter of recommen-dation from a teacher who really knows you can take many hours to write.
     This page is designed to answer some important questions about letters of recommendation, and to give you some hints about the proper etiquette of asking teacher for them.

     Recommendation letters state the teacher's opinion of your academic abilities and your "fitness" for a particular school.  As such, teachers are not required to write them.  If a teacher does not know you well or does not think they could write a positive letter, they may say no.  Don't take it personally:  a weak letter can be as damning as a letter recommending against admission.

     Ask people who really know you well. A coach you have played for for many years and has seen your commitment, drive, and leadership is an excellent choice.  A teacher who has taught you for more than one year and is impressed your skills in their field is another.  Think ahead...if you want the letter to say something great about you, make sure you have shown greatness to the recommender.  Remember that some letters may not have to come from a teacher.  Do not forget your coaches, bosses, religious leaders, or others you have worked with that know you well.

     When asking for a letter of recommendation, you should be prepared to provide the following materials:

  • A current resume or CV that lists all of your activities and  accomplishments

  • A copy of your transcript

  • A list of colleges and universities you would like letters for, the correct way to address them, and any special materials like stickers that need to be attached

  • A clear deadline!

  • If the teacher is mailing the letters, make sure you give them stamped, addressed envelopes

  • If you want to be a little crafty, including a note that thanks the teacher and mentions your accomplishments in their class (like "I'll never forget that A I got on the paper on Shakespeare's tragedies...I worked for weeks on that chem lab and when I was the only one who correctly determined the unknown I was so happy...I loved our class discussions, and really liked taking about the ideas more with you after school.")  It recalls to the teacher some of the achievements you think are important to mention and highlight your skills.

     After you've given the material to the teacher, it is probably wise to casually remind them about a week before they are due. A simple e-mail or visit is all it takes. Don't make a pest of your self.

     A quick thank you note is considered appropriate after some one prepares a reference.