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
  • —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?