It’s that time of the year again. On top of all the essays, SSAT, and so much more, you have to ask your “beloved” teachers for a recommendation. How are you planning on it? Surely, you aren’t just expecting to drop a quick comment that you need a recommendation and call it a day. But just in case you need some guidance, I will give a few pointers that helped me a few years back.
First of all, relationships. Two keywords are crucial here: evaluation and choice. You have to evaluate your relationship with your teachers and choose the right ones. So what is an ideal relationship? You are one of the top students in the class, so your teacher highly regards your academic abilities. Your teacher considers you a competent leader, enough to leave you in charge of the class when he/she is late, for instance. Last and most important, you and they are friends. Friends, as in you don’t just walk into class and your teacher lectures you. Friends being you and your teacher share life outside of class. You are comfortable enough to approach and discuss anything on your mind.
Do you already know what teachers to ask and have a great relationship with? Great. Skip to the next part. If not, listen carefully. Considering your relationship with your teacher, look for teachers who would consider your intellectual abilities to be the highest. That’s the most important. Then approach them with a cup of coffee, an apple, and a big smile. Tell them you are applying to boarding schools - prepare a good response as to why? - and ask them you need a recommendation. Get their emails and put them on the appropriate application site. They should have the form as soon as possible.
Throughout the next week, prepare a resume and a few keywords you want them to use. You want them to emphasize the highlights of your application. If you don’t know how to write a resume or choose keywords, go online, search for a resume template, and put all your activities in (neatly!). Look through your application and find a theme or words that reappear multiple times. Those are your keywords.
Once you have those ready, approach the teacher again, and give them your preparations. Talk to them about your most impressive activities for a bit. Why? Two reasons. Your teacher probably won’t have written the recommendation yet, let alone thought about it. It’s a good refresher. The second reason is by giving them those documents, you will provide the teacher with a great resource to write the recommendation. It will save them time and make their lives easier. It will also subconsciously make the teacher emphasize your academic endeavor more, making the recommendation better.
Lastly, check in with them every now and then for about a month about the recommendation. Obviously, don’t rush them by saying, “have you written the recommendation yet?” I personally gave them updates about my activities and smoothly brought up a reminder about the rec. Now, to do all this, you will realize that you need to ask the teacher at least 4-5 weeks before when you need the recommendation completed.
There we go. Now you got the best recommendation possible in whatever circumstances you are in.
Best of luck to you.
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