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College – References

Who should I select to write my refereces? What will be expected in my college references and college recommendations?

Your recommender should be someone who knows you well. Most applications require two recommendations, and these often must be written by teachers or professors. Of course, the most important factor in choosing a recommender is that they have specific positive things to say about you. If they donít know you well enough, they will probably write you a fairly positive but general and uninspiring letter that could have been written about nearly any decent student. The admissions committee will recognize this immediately, and interpret it as meaning that you could not find anyone who knew you well and still liked you. Find a teacher that you had a good relationship with, one you made an extraordinary effort for, or one you worked with closely on something. Someone who has known you for years but has never seen your best qualities will not write you a good recommendation, and neither will someone who thinks well of you but just met you.

If you are having trouble finding someone you think would write you a good recommendation, you can consider what work you have done in your high school career that you are the most proud of or that you put the most work into. The teacher who graded this work is likely to recognize your effort and even if they do not write a recommendation about your personal qualities, they will at least wholeheartedly praise your work, which is better than flimsy general statements that you are a "good student." If the application allows a non-academic reference, consider any adults who have known you in a context in which you were successful. Appropriate people to ask include scout leaders, employers, music teachers, directors of plays you were in, sports coaches, or anyone else who observed you thriving and performing well. Once you have decided who to ask for the recommendation letters, make sure you give them plenty of advance notice when you ask them to write the letters, and give them all the forms and stamped, addressed envelopes to each school you want a letter for. Remember, they are doing you a favor, so you should make it as easy as possible for them.

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