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How to Ask Teachers for Recommendation Letters During Quarantine

During last Friday's Instagram Live, I mentioned my "Admissions Tip of the Day." If you are a high school junior, this tip is especially for you: Before the end of the school year, make sure to ask your teachers for recommendation letters.

And, in this COVID-19 world we now live in, the process of asking teachers for this all-important piece of the application looks different than in years past.

Here is your COVID-19 plan for asking teachers for recommendation letters: 

1. Look at the admissions websites of the colleges you are interested in to learn how many and what types of letters of recommendation are required.

Most colleges will ask for at least one and possibly two letters of recommendation from core academic teachers.

2. Because you cannot approach a teacher at school right now, send them a proper email.

Your email should be straightforward and clear about what you are asking them for and why. The more specific you can be, the better.

3. Be ready for them to ask you to meet over Google Meet or another virtual platform to discuss your request.

Because you cannot meet in-person, this is the next best thing.

4. You might be asked to fill out a questionnaire by the teacher.

These questionnaires remind the teacher of what makes you special. Make sure you get as specific as possible with your responses as some teachers use your words verbatim in their letter of recommendation.

5. Thank the teacher with a thoughtful email once they agree to write you a letter of recommendation.

Teachers don't get paid extra to do this and you want them to know how appreciative you are of their help. 
It may feel really early to ask teachers for recommendation letters. Believe it or not, it is the perfect time. The popular teachers tend to get asked to write letters for many students. It is not uncommon for them to put a limit on the number of letters they are willing to write each year. Some teachers use the summer to write these letters so asking them now ensures that it will get done in time for fall. 

Got college admissions questions? Check out Application Nation for my personalized advice.

Keep in mind that even colleges that do not ask for recommendation letters in a typical year may end up requiring them this year. With many colleges announcing test optional admissions policies, I anticipate additional requirements for those students who choose not to submit their test scores. Those additional requirements could include a letter of recommendation, or an additional one. Almost every college-bound student should be asking at least one teacher, and possibly two, for a recommendation letter for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.