College Planning Resources
Letters of Recommendation
A school recommendation is required by many colleges as part of the application. Florida state universities do not accept any letters of recommendation. Colleges value counselor and teacher recommendations because they reveal things about the applicant that grades and test scores can’t reveal. Teacher recommendations are important elements in a student’s application, as teachers provide insight about a student’s intellectual self. Recommendations describe a student’s work habits, academic passions, and contributions in the classroom. Most colleges require 1-2 letters of recommendation from either an English, Math, Science, History or Foreign Language teacher and 1 letter from the college counselor. Colleges want a current perspective on the student, so please request teachers from the junior or senior year. The counselor letter of recommendation summarizes the student’s entire experience in high school (involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership roles, academic achievements, family background, and overcoming any challenges. In addition, the counselor letter provides the admissions committee with information and impressions that cannot be gleaned from the rest of the student’s application.
Students need to request letters of recommendation at the beginning of April in the junior year. Requests should be made through Naviance and the student should personally speak with the teacher about their request. Teachers will upload their letters through Naviance, and the counselor will electronically submit the letters directly to the college after the student submits their college application. Students will have to waive their rights to view recommendation letters on the application through FERPA. Admission officers will trust the letters more if the student has not read them.
Other recommendations from outside coaches, employers, or mentors may be included in your application packet. If applying through the Common Application, the email of the recommender will have to be submitted, and then the recommender will be able to upload their letter. The letter can also be mailed through USPS directly to the office of undergraduate admissions. Students should be careful not to appear to be “padding” their applications with several recommendation letters. Please read the college’s website for specific instructions on the amount of recommendation letters that are allowed.
Teachers write many recommendation letters each year. Even if they know you very well, it’s a good idea to do the following:
- Talk with them about your class participation.
- Remind them of specific work or projects you are proud of.
- Mention any challenges you overcame.
- Give them the information they need to provide specific examples of your work.
- Please thank your teachers for writing your recommendation letters.