Get The Best Recommendation Letter
The recommendations that accompany your application are incredibly important and informative. A B student with truly outstanding recommendations may be preferable to an A student whose teachers can;t be bothered to come up with more original adjectives than “hardworking” and “diligent”. Even though you cant actually write your own recommendations, you can advocate fr yourself and provide your recommendation’s with relevant information that will enable them to write a better letter on your behalf.
You Do Not Want A Recommendation Letter Like This:
Almost every college requires a guidance counselor recommendation letter. The form that accompanies the letter on the Common Application is fairly simple. The first page ask your guidance counselor for some basic contact information and includes a few lines where they will list your senior year courses. The second page asks guidance counselors to provide important details about your academic record- your GPA, class rank, and course rigor. Your guidance counselor will then attach a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
Because many high schools have such high student-counselor ratios and there can be a lot of turnover in guidance counseling departments, it is not uncommon for counselors to know very little about the students on whose behalf they are asked to write the recommendation letter for. Some schools try to solve this problem by asking teachers to provide a short comment on students performance so that guidance counselors can incorporate these comments into their letters.
The first thing to do is to set up a meeting with your guidance counselor, who will have no way to get to know you if you two don not spend time together. Be sure to complete your accomplishments doc and bring it to the meeting along with some notes about what makes you unique or different. Have you had any obstacles or challenges- like parents divorce, a death in the family or personal health problems- that have contributed to some of your lower grades? If so, you;ll also want to share this with your guidance counselor, in fact the guidance counselor letter is the ideal place to discuss these mitigating circumstances. If your life is relatively obstacle free, you should still create a list of things that make you a great candidate for college. Are you a frequent contributor to the class discussions? Do you love to supplement your classroom learning with visits to the museum or by working on behalf of certain causes or movements.
What can you give to a college if accepted? How will you take advantage of this opportunity? A strong guidance counselor recommendation letter addresses these types of questions. When dealing with your guidance counselors, a good rule of thumb is to treat them like they are doing you a favor, because they are if you think about it. Yes, it is technically their job to write you a letter of recommendation, but it is not necessarily their job to write you a good, detailed recommendation letter. Be respectful of their time, come prepare to meetings, bring a copy of your accomplishments doc and notes about what makes you special so that they have something in writing. Do not forget to thank them for taking the time out to help you get into the college of your dreams.
Tips For communicating With Your Guidance Counselor
Set up a meeting (or several meetings) to introduce yourself.
Prepare for the meeting with a clear list of questions
Complete your accomplishments doc in advance and leave it with your counselor so that they have information in writing.
Provide your counselor with written notes about the specific things that make you a unique applicant. These will help your guidance counselor write a more detailed recommendation on your behalf.
Be sure to discuss any relevant mitigating circumstances that have affected your academics.
If you have a first choice school, share tis with your counselor, she may want to note this in the recommendation letter.
Treat your counselor as if they are doing you a favor.