How to request letters of recommendation

By Emily Chapman, Editor–

As college deadlines approach, students are rushing to gather application material. One requirement is letters of recommendation, which are necessary for both private and public university applications, excluding colleges in the University of California and California State University systems. 

Although the number of recommendations vary by school, most private and public universities request a letter of recommendation from your school counselor and, depending on the school, a prior or current teacher.

Here are a few steps you should take to get to a letter of recommendation from your counselor and a past or current teacher.

Letter of recommendation from a teacher:

Step 1:  Communicate with a teacher you have had throughout your academic career to write a recommendation on your behalf. 

Davis High head counselor Catherine Pereira advises that you ask two high school teachers who can attest to your character or work ethic.

“Choose two teachers in different subject areas who know you, and can speak to the type of student you are,” Pereira said. “If possible, these teachers should be from junior or senior years, but if your sophomore teacher knows you well, you can ask them. Any teachers before sophomore year should be used as an ‘other recommender.”’

Communicate with your teacher through a polite email or conversation that asks the teacher if they will write a letter of recommendation and what materials they would like you to provide in order to help them with this process. In addition, make sure to address any specific deadlines you may have if you need their recommendation by a certain time.

Materials teachers might request include: the College Recommendation Packet, an application essay, a resume or a list of your leadership involvement and extracurricular activities. 

Step 2: Send your teacher the material they requested.

Once your teacher has your information, make sure to clarify your deadline and add them to your application platform, such as the Common Application or Coalition Application. 

Stay in contact with this teacher to remind them of your deadlines and see if they need further information.

Letter of recommendation from a counselor: 

DISCLAIMER: Since the Oct. 31 deadline has passed for students to request a letter of recommendation from their counselors for regular decision, students must email their counselor if they haven’t requested by this date. The process below outlines what steps to take if your counselor agrees to write you a letter of recommendation.

Step 1: Fill out and send the college recommendation packet to your counselor before you meet.

This packet will require you to submit one of your college essays and a statement from your guardian. These fields may be time consuming so it’s a good idea to start on them as soon as possible. 

Make sure to include any pressing time constraints, if any, when you send the packet to your counselor.

Step 2: Schedule an appointment with your counselor on SCUTA, which can be found on a hyperlink under your counselor’s name

After filling out your request, make sure you get a confirmation email so you know your request was processed. 

Step 3: Add your counselor to your application platform.

It is important to add your counselor to your application platform as soon as possible so they can view the schools you are applying to and attach their letter when complete. 

With deadlines fast approaching, do your best to stay on task and make requests for a letter of recommendation as soon as possible. 

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