Writing Recommendation Letters (for Faculty)
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
- 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?