Write the Perfect College Recommendation!

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Rec

So aside from the whole “there will be no bathroom breaks” when you are teaching revelation moment I had during my first year, there was also the “you will write 75 college recommendations a year” (and have no extra preps or paid time to do so!) lesson I learned too.

College Recommendations. They are SO IMPORTANT for our students. As a teacher of upper grades (11th & 12th) in high school, students always come to me for a recommendation. I can’t write every student a rec (as there are 170 students overall a year for me!) so I have to do a couple of things to streamline my application process.

  1. Make it a two part process. The first – require an initial Request Form.
    Make the student fill out an initial request form (Template here). You can download the template or create a similar one in Google Forms this way you can keep track of their responses. I like to do this in April. Give them motivation. I like to tell my students they have to complete a certain amount of class participation and volunteer work for me to write the rec. Some teachers require a minimum GPA.
  2. The Second – Require a Final Lengthy “Brag Sheet” Request Form. Once you have selected your batch of students, send out a final “recommendation sheet” (Template Here)Explain to students that this one should be detailed and well written and that you may use quotes from their brag sheet in the final recommendation that your write.
  3. Require a Summer Deadline.
    Give students an early summer deadline to fill out their forms. I write my recommendations in the summer and early fall and like to get a head start before the school year begins.
  4. Set boundaries.
    I require all of my students to tell me about any early action/decision schools they are applying to so I can be sure to have their recommendations done sooner. Then I ask them to have all colleges they plan on applying to in the system (ours is called Naviance) by December 1st so I can send out the college recommendations in bulk. Any schools that they add after the deadline they are required to the college office administrator to send it in. This way I don’t have to go in and update their schools on a whim or their stressed deadlines.
  5. Get writing!
    Have a few different templates. Not every student needs a long recommendation as their schools they are applying to won’t require it. Try to keep your recommendation at a page and a half max (similar to a resume!) Take a peek at their college list to gauge what is needed. Some scholarships require a certain template too. Use the print from their recommendation sheet to include insights on their writing. Looking for a few templates? Here are three from my TPT store. You can also purchase an entire bundled version for you here with email templates, brag sheets and request forms!
  6. Keep a notebook and be organized (whether online or in print).
    Send email confirmations to your students and track who you still need information for.
  7. Follow up with students in the spring.
    Send a big congratulations note to the student via email. Hopefully you will get a note of thanks from the student too but manage your expectations. Happy writing!

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