Writing Recommendation Letters (for Faculty)

Recommendation Letters Presentation - Website Version

Things for Teachers to Keep in Mind:

  • Your letter might be read by multiple audiences: admission officers, scholarship committees, college faculty
  • Your letter may be the only teacher recommendation the committee receives for the student (maybe recommendation letter #2 never arrived or is not required).
  • Some colleges ask applicants to submit recommendations from teachers in opposite disciplines. Your letter might represent the “best” of a student’s abilities in an academic area.
  • Be honest with your students. If you feel that you are not the best person to write the recommendation – don’t do it.
  • If you are having trouble personalizing the letter, meet with the student. Talk about some things.
  • Every letter you compose adds to (or minimizes) your credibility.
  • Don’t take the admission decision personally.

Areas for Your Letter to Include:

  • Provide details about your class that you think are noteworthy/unique: level, text used, projects, trends, unusual grade distribution.
  • Mention any gaps in curriculum/sequence issues – did the student have to work considerably harder in this class since coming from the previous school?
  • Include anecdotal information & specific references. Adjectives are not enough.
  • The majority of your letter should be about academics, less so about extracurricular activities. However, keep in mind that because NCSSM is a residential school, some admission offices may expect you to have more personal knowledge of the student.

Make sure your letter addresses major areas:

  • Academic aptitude
  • Intelligence
  • Perseverance
  • Maturity
  • Self-discipline
  • Social skills/personal qualities

Sample Questions for Students to Answer for Teachers Writing Recommendation Letters

  • Why did you ask me to submit a letter on your behalf?
  • What lesson/project, etc. did you enjoy the most in my class ? Why was this your favorite?
  • In what areas do you feel this class helped you to grow?
  • How were you challenged in any areas of the class?
  • Did this class spark an interest in learning more about this subject area? If so, how?
  • What are your academic strengths?
  • What are your personal strengths?
  • What are some specific things you hope I discuss in your letter?

Focus Access for Recommenders

Gaining access to a student's FOCUS account allows them to view grades, teacher comments, and course schedule, which can be very helpful.

Click on this short video link that walks you through the process of gaining recommender access: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxQoytFNYYfHVk1pUWJUM3BPZ1U/view

Once you have been added to a student's Focus account, you can watch the following video to learn how to access their information.