TWO YEAR COLLEGE APPLICANTS Letters of recommendation are only required for a Community College honors program and for scholarship applications.
FOUR YEAR COLLEGE APPLICANTS While you may not need them, plan for:
Counselor letter of recommendation
Two teacher letters of recommendation
NOTE: Some schools DO NOT ACCEPT any letters. These include: the UC system, the CSU system, UArizona, AZ State, Penn State, University of Florida, and more - notice, lots of BIG schools. Some of these schools do want letters for Honors applicants.
Most students do NOT need more than two teacher letters and should not plan to ask 4-5 teachers for letters of recommendation. Some students may need a third letter, IF a particular schools wants letters from certain subject areas (e.g. MIT, Princeton).
Applying to colleges is an exercise in following directions - be sure you are giving them what they ask for, and that you are adhering to their limits. An individual counselor may be reading 1,000 applications - you want to stand out for the right reasons!
counselor letter of recommendation
While a teacher letter of recommendation focuses on your classroom skills, the counselor letter focuses more broadly on your involvement in the school community, your progress as a student, personal strengths/challenges and how you are perceived by your peers and teachers. In order for a thorough letter to be written, you will need to complete the counselor brag sheet by at least 2 weeks before your deadlines. This is a great thing to do over the summer! If there is any other information about your life as an SV student or if you have a specific issue you would like to be included in your letter, be sure to bring this to Mrs. Kropelnicki's attention.
You will also need to make sure you have submitted the following documents:
Mrs. Kropelnicki will use this information, as well as her knowledge of you, to write a counselor letter for you.
ACADEMIC letter of recommendation
Students should carefully consider which teachers they ask for letters of recommendation. To cover college requirements, we suggest that you ask TWOdifferent teachers. Some colleges (e.g., MIT & military academies) or programs (e.g., BS/MD programs) require letters from specific teachers, but most are not specific. They do want the letter to come from a teacher in an academic subject. You should select teachers who can best speak to your academic abilities and personal character. This isn’t the class where you got an ‘A’ but sat in the back and didn’t talk - sometimes the teacher who gave you a hard-earned ‘B’ can write a great letter about what you added to the class and your academic perseverance.
Colleges prefer teachers from junior or senior year, but it’s okay to go back to 9th and 10th grade teachers if you still maintain a current relationship with that teacher (maybe you have them again, or you are now in a club they advise). A teacher who had you in the classroom and is also a coach or advisor of one of your clubs is a great person to ask!
You should plan toverbally ask two teachers by the end of junior year. You should ask in person and follow up with an email. The teacher may ask that you supply additional information, such as a teacher brag sheet and resume, to help with their letter. Be sure to ask when they would like to have this information in hand. You’ll follow up in the Fall by putting an official request in Naviance; more information will be provided at that time.
Additional letters are not needed for most applicants. Some colleges will accept additional letters, but others will not. Additional letters should ADD to your application. They should not be "more of the same". You should first check to see if your colleges will accept additional letters before you ask someone!
Outside letters of recommendation are best submitted by the recommender through the Common App system or sent directly to the college. Mrs. Kropelnicki can assist with this in the Fall. Please do not ask more than 1 outside recommender - you will rarely have the opportunity to submit more than one! Note: If asking a former teacher (no longer working at SV) for an outside letter of recommendation through Common App, please use their personal email. Teachers using their school email will be locked out of their school's Naviance or other college and career program if they submit a letter to Common App using their school email address.