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Sample Recommendation Letter document sample

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									Writing the Successful
   Peggy Johnson and Kathy Schmidt
           Saint Mary’s Hall
           San Antonio, TX
Do You Feel Like This?

    ―Flight or Write?‖
The Difference Between Counselor
 and Teacher Recommendations

• Counselor letter gives overview of
  student’s academic and extracurricular life,
  identifies student’s passions and values,
  identifies essence of student, places him in
  contexts of school and community
• Teacher letter focuses on student’s role in
  the classroom, should be specific to the
  teacher’s class; identifies student’s
  intellectual qualities
 What do Admissions Officers Hope
    to Find in a Good Teacher

• Honesty
• Information that is specific to the student
• Detailed picture of student’s intellectual ability,
  curiosity, critical thinking skills, passion to learn,
  work ethic, study habits, interpersonal interactions
  within your classroom, motivation, perseverance,
  creativity, etc.
• Information limited to the teacher’s classroom
Samples of Inadequate Letters of
 For the past two years I have had the pleasure of
   associating with _________ on a professional
   level. _______ has been a student in my
   Spanish II and Spanish III classes. She has
   that rare ability that coalesces a fine mind, an
   inexorable intellectual curiosity, and an
   affability that draws in the other students to her
   pursuits. In the end, she makes the students
   around her feel as if they have equally

 Any institution would be proud to count _______
  as a member.
 How does this letter measure up?

I have known __________ as a student in my high
   school, where he was enrolled in a U.S.History
   class that I taught. He was with me his entire
   junior year. I have also observed _________ in
   performances of Chamber Choir.

My exposure to __________ was not always
  positive. Although he is very bright, he did not
  always apply himself to his studies. Often he was
  late in turning in his written assignments. On the
  other hand, he often read ahead and was able to
  answer many questions. In fact, __________ is
  quite verbal. I often had to remind him to quit
  talking and laughing with his neighbor. He was
  seldom quiet for long.
__________ is, at times, entertaining and at other
  times a pest. He does get along well with his
  peers but can also be disruptive. In speaking with
  his golf coach, I was told that the season would
  have been more enjoyable without _________. I
  believe he has a very high opinion of himself.

Despite these concerns, I recommend ________ for
  your program and am certain that he will succeed.
                 And This One?

I am delighted to recommend _________ to your
   fine institution. I have known _________ for two
   years and can honestly say that he is one of the
   finest students we have ever had at our school.
   He has my full support in the college application
   process. ________ will be a source of pride to
   whichever institution he chooses to attend.

      So, What Should a Teacher
     Recommendation Accomplish?
1.   Be an advocate for the student. If you can’t say
     anything positive about the student, don’t agree
     to write for him. Suggest that he ask another
     teacher to write his recommendation.

2.   Describe briefly the ―culture‖ of your classroom
     in terms of your teaching style, expectations,
     and types of assignments.

3.   Include anecdotal information about the student
     and his performance in your class.
     Teacher Recommendations:

4.   Whenever possible, be evaluative and make
     comparative statements, such as ―highest grade
     on the exam,‖ or ―leader of class discussions,‖
     or ―one of only two A’s I gave that semester.‖

5.   If you have particular knowledge of why a
     student is likely to be successful at a particular
     institution, mention it in your letter.

6.   Limit your letter to one page, and keep a copy
     for future reference.
     Teacher Recommendations:

7. Don’t be afraid to describe a bad grade.
   Sometimes a comment about a ―poor‖ grade can
   be more helpful and revealing than comments
   about a good grade.

8. Don’t ―gush‖ or make comments that appear too
   personal (―We’ve enjoyed a close relationship.‖)

9. Don’t include a student’s physical description
   unless it’s important to the context of your class.
           Qualities to Highlight:

•   Achievement
•   Analytical ability
•   Originality
•   Creativity
•   Problem-solving ability
•   Research skills
•   Communication skills
•   Effectiveness in class discussions
•   Insight
•   Thoroughness
A Look at the Classroom Résumé

• Purpose of the resume – to refresh your
  memory of the student’s performance in
  your class
• To allow the student to give the teacher his
  perspective of the classroom experience
• To help the teacher identify student’s
  strengths, challenges, intellectual qualities
 Sample Response to Classroom
• (on handout)
         Structure for a Teacher
• Introduction: Identify the class in which you
  taught the student, its goals, challenges, the skills
  you emphasize, your experience in teaching your
• Body: Describe the student in the context of your
  class, highlighting student’s qualities as
  specifically as possible, giving anecdotes about
  student’s performance on papers, projects, and
  class participation, etc.
• Conclusion: Summarize your assessment of the
  student’s ability; offer a realistic opinion of
  student’s ability to succeed in college.
         Final Tips for Teacher
• Follow the principles of good writing:
  be concise, to the point, and grammatically
• Use active verbs and few adjectives.
• Know your audience and keep them in mind.
• Provide relevant information.
• When writing for a weaker student, highlight
  strengths and discuss weaknesses.
• Beware of the ―crystal ball‖ syndrome: ―I know he
  will improve next semester.‖
• Proofread your recommendation, and proofread it
   Examples of Effective Teacher

(on handouts)
   Value of an Effective Teacher

Helps admission officer understand how the
 student thinks and performs in the

Fills in the academic details of the student’s
   profile—colleges are looking for students
   above all else
Contact Information
            Peggy Johnson
     Director of College Counseling
            Saint Mary’s Hall
          9401 Starcrest Drive
         San Antonio, TX 78217

              Kathy Schmidt
 Assistant Director of College Counseling
             Saint Mary’s Hall
           9401 Starcrest Drive
         San Antonio, TX 78217

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