Dear College Made Simple Reader,
Every year, millions of high school students vie for admission in the few thousand colleges in the United States.
That’s a lot of competition. It can seem like you are up against impossible odds and that you are alone in overcoming them.
Not so. Getting into the right college isn’t an easy task, but it’s a task you don’t have to undertake alone.
Here are five people who can help improve your chances of getting into the college of your choice.
Teachers are the eyes and ears on the ground at high schools. They know how you perform in the classroom and how you interact with others. They know your strengths as a student and areas you need to work on.
When deciding on which teacher to ask to write you a letter of recommendation, there are a few things to consider: How well you did in your classes; how well they know you; and if you can trust them to write a personal and flattering letter about you.
Letters from a teacher work best if you’ve had multiple classes taught by them, and if you’ve had a challenging course load.
A recommendation letter from a principal carries a lot of weight, but they are much more difficult to get than a letter from a teacher.
To get a recommendation letter from a principal, you have to be a standout student – academically and socially. You have to be involved in school and show that you are a leader amongst your fellow students.
Most importantly, you have to have an established relationship with the principal before he/she writes the letter. That means they have to know you beyond your grades and what sports/activities you are involved in.
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A recommendation from a work supervisor isn’t as effective as an academic recommendation, but it can carry weight about an aspect of you that those in the academic world don’t see.
An employer can speak of your work ethic, how well you work under pressure and handle responsibility, how well you work with others, and how well you work with superiors.
These letters work best if your employment is lengthy and if your work experience has a connection to your desired career path. It also looks good if the letter is from work performed as a volunteer – whether it is for charity or for a community club.
These people can provide an effective endorsement under the right conditions.
First, like a recommendation from a principal, you need to know them personally, and vice versa, they would need to know you.
Second, they should be able to speak to your character, talents, and best qualities in a way a teacher/principal or employer can’t.
For example, a recommendation from a religious leader can be effective in getting accepted to a Christian college. And a local civic leader can help you be accepted into programs such as criminal justice, political science, social work, law, etc.
A difference maker is someone you put in a lot of work for with a meaningful result. It could be the neighbor next door, it could be an acquaintance of your family. Who they are varies on a variety of factors, but you’ll know a difference maker when you see one.
With all of these people, it’s important to give plenty of notice to whoever you ask to write a letter for you. It gives them plenty of time to write a good letter and time to follow up with you about anything they’d like to include in the letter.
Also, be sure to formally thank anyone who writes a letter for you. Not only is it an appropriate action to repay their kind gesture, but it further proves to them that you are worth their effort.
To your college funding & admissions success,
Co-founder, College Planning Network, LLC
Publisher, College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of College Planning Network, LLC