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Apr 20, 2019
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Letters of Recommendation
Updated: Apr 21, 2019
Hey juniors, it's time to think about which teachers to ask for a letter of recommendation. Figure this out and inquire before the end of junior year.
Who needs them? Not all schools require letters of recommendation, none of the UC campuses, the Cal State system, nor the Community College system require letters of recommendation. (UC Berkeley is requesting them in a very limited number of cases. )
There are two types of Letters of Recommendation, teacher letters and counselor letters.
Private colleges generally require between 1 to 3 Letters of Recommendation or LOR. They will also require a counselor letter which will talk about your progress within the context of your school.
At Culver City High School the deadlines for requesting a LOR are as follows: For students applying early action or early decision the deadline is September 27, 2019. (Applications due Oct-December 2019) Note: also for schools with early scholarship deadlines such as University of Southern California, U. of Washington-Seattle, and Boston University.
Who to ask? In general if you are asked for 1 letter, pick the general academic field you are interested in, e.g. science, English, humanities, social science, arts.
If you are asked for 2 LOR try to ask for one letter each in the two major categories of science/math and humanities. All letters should come from teachers of core classes. (English, Math, Science, Social Science, Foreign Language, Arts if a during-the-school-day course)
Only some schools will allow letters from non-academic sources such as from AVPA, robotics, athletic coaches, scout leaders etc.
Counselor letters: Used by private schools. Get to know your guidance counselor. Make an appointment during your junior year to introduce yourself if you haven't already. Your counselor has the big picture of how you have succeeded with your education as seen within the context of your high school.
Questions to ask yourself:
Which are your favorite junior classes?
Which teachers do you think "get you" and how you learn?
It doesn't necessarily mean teachers who gave you the highest grades.
Who knows you best in terms of your attitude to learning, your perseverance in difficult topics, the extra work you put into assignments you love?
Have you gotten to know your guidance counselor?
Think about how you and your teachers interact.
What contributions have you made in a specific class? Including in discussions, presentations, projects, essays, Socratic seminars?
What positive character traits did you show in this class? Including: integrity, independence, initiative, responsibility, teamwork, maturity, respect, perseverance, attention, attendance, going beyond expectations.
Have you shown your intellectual or academic aptitude in the class? Including curiosity, making connections, creativity, out-of-the-box or creative solutions.
What was challenging about this class? How did you deal with the challenge? Did you seek tutoring, consult with the teacher, figure out how to work more efficiently, develop better study tools etc.
When to ask:
1. Ask politely during your junior year if the teacher feels qualified to write a letter about you.
2. Put together a "brag" sheet with your various accomplishments. Most teachers and counselors require these as a place to start. Get them from school and fill them out as completely as possible.
3. MANDATORY, meet the deadlines. Even if you asked as a junior, do not forget to put in a formal request as a senior.
For students applying early action or early decision the 2019 deadline is September 27, 2019. (Applications dues Oct-December)