The Importance of a Strong Teacher Recommendation

A notebook and a pen sit on a desk.

December 08, 2017

As college application season begins, we always receive several questions from students about teacher recommendations. It’s wise to ask your teachers very soon about writing those for you (if you haven’t done so already) to give them plenty of time to write good letters that will reach us in time. So, as you go about getting those from your teachers, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind:

Make it personal.

We require a teacher recommendation because it provides us with detail and context about the kind of student you’ve been that we can’t get any other way. We understand that, as a student, you are more than just a compilation of academic statistics. The teacher recommendation provides us with stories, descriptions, and lasting impressions from your teachers about who you’ve been in the classroom during high school.

We require at least one teacher recommendation.

Your application will be considered “incomplete” if we do not receive this letter by December 1st.

You are welcome to submit more than one letter, but please limit yourself to no more than two total.

This is the maximum number that the Common App allows you to submit via their online application, and we find it to be a good number too. Keep in mind, many of your teachers have several students asking them for recommendations and it’s important to be respectful of their time. We also find that while a second letter can sometimes offer a fresh perspective about you, additional letters beyond that are often redundant and aren’t necessary.

It’s best if we get the Teacher Evaluation form and a recommendation letter.

We use the Common Application’s Teacher Evaluation form and want your teacher to fill it out. Most teachers will also write you a letter of recommendation to include with the form. If we receive just the completed form or a letter by itself, we’ll consider that recommendation requirement fulfilled, but we want to have both. Your application will be stronger if we do.

Give your teachers notice and remind them well before the deadline hits.

You will save yourself, your parents, and your teachers a lot of headaches if you ask your teachers for recommendations far before the deadline. Follow up with them to make sure they get it submitted on time.

Pick teachers who know you well to complete your recommendations.

Sometimes we read recommendations from teachers who admit that they don’t know the student they’re recommending very well. Students might, for instance, be tempted to ask teachers that they’ve only had for a couple months in the start of their senior year write their recommendation. We will certainly accept these recommendations, but obviously the strongest recommendations will almost always come from teachers who really know the student well and can speak in detail about them on an academic and personal level.


If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask your admissions counselor or call our office at 509.313.6572.