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Mrs. Snipes’ Handy Reference for Students Requesting Letters of Recommendation I am happy and honored to recommend my former students as they embark upon the college admissions journey. In order to get the best letter possible from me, requests for letters of recommendation must include the following: 1. Recommendation forms completed with all of your information already filled out (this means your legal name, address, phone number, email, etc.). In addition, I expect you to fill out all of my information, as well. You can find all my contact information on the school website. All I should have to do is sign my name. 2. Stamped self-addressed envelopes (with my name and the school’s address as the return address) for each recommendation along with detailed information about when each recommendation is due. Please note that if school is in session I prefer that you pick up recommendations directly from me and mail them yourself. 3. A copy of your transcripts and a list of all extracurricular affiliations and accomplishments. 4. A detailed typed response to the following questions: A. What are your academic and character strengths? B. Name one particular instance (a specific lesson, assignment, or activity) in my class in which the strengths you indicate were particularly apparent. C. What specifically did you get out of the class you took with me? What literary work or unit we covered in class was most valuable to you and why? D. What are your educational/career goals, and how will the strengths described in A, as demonstrated in the example described in B, help you attain them? 5. Your contact information, phone and email, so that I can be in touch with you if I have any questions or to let you know if any information is incomplete. I will also contact you when your letters are complete and ready to be picked up. 6. I also recommend that students also include a favorite essay from my class so that I can cite specific passages in my letter that highlight your analytical writing skills. Please assemble all of the above neatly in a folder with your name written clearly on the front. Please note the following: As a teacher of upper classmen I typically receive several requests for letters of recommendation. These letters are a time consuming enterprise for me and I will only be writing letters for 30 students this year. (Keep in mind that I have a husband and two small children who are my top priority. I am also teaching classes and have preparation and grading for my new students.) Also note that I will write letters for no more than 5 schools/requests per student. Much of the time I compose and print these letters from home and I use printer cartridges that I buy with my own money. I recognize how competitive the admissions process is nowadays, but I simply cannot commit to more than five letters per student. Please get your requests and information above to me as early as possible. I would like to have requests (meaning, completed folders, as described above) at least six weeks prior to their due dates. Recommendation requests will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis. I will post an announcement on my school website and outside the classroom when I can no longer accept requests. Also, if I ever caught you cheating or if I have knowledge that you were ever involved in an academic dishonesty issue, I cannot in good conscience write you a letter of recommendation. Furthermore, if you were a student who consistently fell asleep in my class, had several absences, were caught texting, or watching movies/videos on your ipod, repeatedly whined or complained, or in general behaved in such a way that was less than respectful to me, yourself, and/or the academic process I will not write a letter to recommend you. In addition, if you were a student who received good grades but never participated in class discussions or never spoke to me outside of class about class matters, I will have insufficient knowledge of you to write an effective letter for your prospective universities. Mrs. Snipes’ Pet Peeves for Letters of Recommendation: Obviously, the top irritation is an incomplete folder. Please use the checklist. Incorrect contact information is annoying. If I have to spend my time trying to track you down for your correct contact information, your letter will reflect this information to prospective colleges. If I call or email you to come pick up your letters of recommendation, please do so promptly or contact me to let me know when you will be able to do so. I get easily frustrated when I spend an hour or more writing letters for a student, email him or her that the letters are ready to be picked up, and then wait for two weeks for said student to drop by my classroom and pick up what I spent valuable time working on. If you write any information in your request about your intended chosen major, please know that I will be specific in my letters in referring to that major. I once, and very graciously, allowed a student to see a recommendation letter that I wrote for her. In her request, she specified that she wanted to major in engineering and wanted to pursue a career in architecture. I wrote to that effect in her letter. She later came back and asked that I change the letter to reflect her changed major. DO NOT BE SO RUDE AS TO ASK ME TO CHANGE A LETTER I SPENT TIME AND ENERGY WRITING TO YOUR SPECIFICATIONS. Though I can appreciate a student’s desire to apply to his or her dream college, please only ask me to write a recommendation for a college that is likely to accept you based on your GPA and other accomplishments. In other words, if you have a 3.o GPA, I will not be writing a letter to Harvard for you. Please don’t waste my time or yours. IMPORTANT!!! The following suggestion is simply good manners and applies not only to me, but to any teacher or employer who writes you a letter of recommendation: take the time to write a sincere thank you note. (I mean write a note on nice stationery, not just an email). A modest gift is also much appreciated, though not required. You are not entitled to a letter. If a teacher takes the time to write one for you, consider it a great kindness and a huge favor. Teachers do not get compensated by the school for helping you get into college. We do it out of generosity and a desire to see our former students succeed. Express your gratitude accordingly. Mrs. Snipes’ Checklist for Letters of Recommendation Request Use the following checklist to be sure that you have fulfilled all your requirements before you submit your requests to me. □ Did you include a detailed, typed response to the following questions? A. What are your academic and character strengths? B. Name one particular instance (a specific lesson, assignment, or activity) in my class in which the strengths you indicate were particularly apparent. C. What specifically did you get out of the class you took with me? What literary work or unit we covered in class was most valuable to you and why? D. What are your educational/career goals, and how will the strengths described in A, as demonstrated in the example described in B, help you attain them? □ Did you include and complete all of the recommendation forms? □ Did you include stamped, self-addressed (with my name and the school’s address) envelopes for each of the recommendations? □ Did you sign the waiver? □ Did you include detailed information about due dates for each recommendation? □ Did you include a copy of your transcripts? □ Did you include your contact information (phone and email)? □ Did you include a favorite graded assignment from my class that highlights your strengths as a thinker and writer? □ When you submit your requests, please arrange a date/time to follow up and conference with me and/or pick up recommendations. Thank you! Best of luck on the college application process!
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