college letter of recommendationAt most top-tier schools, you will be required to get letters of recommendation as part of your application. And it makes sense: they want to know more about you than grades and scores and they cannot just go on your word alone. With this important step standing between you and that coveted acceptance letter, this means you have to recruit the right person to speak on your behalf.

You might already have some ideas, but there are probably some you haven’t thought of. This list can get your wheels turning about who you will ask. For sure, you want to make sure it’s just the right person:

1. Teacher

No one knows how you perform academically better than your teachers. They grade your assignments and tests. They watch how you do in the classroom. They are aware of how you’ve grown and improved. In the eyes of a college admissions committee, they offer the best window into your abilities as a student.

But you won’t want to ask just any teacher for this special assignment. You’ll want to pick one with whom you’ve really clicked and had an excellent grade with, someone you can trust to go above and beyond in tooting your horn.

2. Principal

Principals are impressive to college admissions committees for one reason: if a principal is willing to write your letter of recommendation, it means you stood out enough among all the student body that they were willing to take time out of their very busy schedule to do so.

Now, before you run off and ask your principal, there is a catch. You need to have a relationship with the principal and they need to know you personally before they can write you a proper letter. If you don’t already have a relationship with your principal, you might consider finding opportunities to get to know them. This makes it much more effective and much less awkward when you ask them to write your letter of recommendation.

3. Extracurricular Supervisor

This refers to people who have supervised in non-classroom activities. It can be a coach, a club advisor, a student government advisor, a Boy Scout leader, or the supervisor at places where you do volunteer work. These people are in a very good position to rave about your qualities as a human being: your leadership skills, your work ethic, your desire to make a change, etc. In some ways, they can make a better letter of recommendation than one of your teachers.

4. Work Supervisor

In other posts, we’ve repeated again and again the importance of displaying your work ethic to an admissions committee. College is very taxing work. Rushing to classes, working long hours to complete assignments, and then working on the side to pay your bills. This is not for the wimpy. College admissions committees know this, and they’re looking for students who will hang in there for the long haul. So, if you’re going to show how hard you can work outside and inside, a recommendation from a supervisor or manager might be a great way to convey to them your work ethic.

5. Ecclesiastical Leader

Ministers, priests, pastors, rabbis, bishops, imams, and other religious leaders that you may know have a unique viewpoint into who you are as a person. They may have witnessed you participating in volunteer or family activities. They might know something of your qualities that go beyond academics or employment. Also, as part of their positions, they are usually heavily vested in your success and will write you a great recommendation. Having an ecclesiastical leader write your recommendation can be a wonderful way to show admissions committees a more well-rounded, human version of yourself that is more memorable than your typical school stuff.

For any of these recommenders, to make sure your recommender hits all your important points, you’ll want to sit down with them and coach them on what they should write about. Our other post, has some great tips on what these things should be.

Are you preparing your college application? Who will you be using for your letter of recommendation? Tell us in the comments below!

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