How to ask teachers for recs

Senior Danny Gordon consults with his teacher for a recommendation.

Michael Fox

Senior Danny Gordon consults with his teacher for a recommendation.

By Michael Fox, Sports Editor

Many students cannot stand the thought of having to ask a teacher for a college recommendation, but asking for a rec is nothing to get nervous over.  If you are a freshman or sophomore, then don’t sweat it, you’ve got time. But if you are a junior, then it is time to start preparing to pop the big question. All you have to do to ensure that you get that rec, follow these steps.

Step 1. Pick the Right Teacher.

The first and most important step in asking a teacher for a recommendation is choosing the right teacher to ask. Most teachers will be happy to write a student a recommendation if the student is one that they like. Be sure to pick a teacher you are friendly with, or one you can relate to.

If you are an outgoing person and actively participate in their class, then you are probably in  the clear when asking for the rec. If you are somewhat of a reticent student, make sure you can persuade the teacher in some way that you are worthy of his or her recommendation, like going in for extra help outside of class.

You should also consider the teacher based on the grade you earned in his/her class. If you went A-A in the class, then the teacher is a prime target to aim for. But if you failed to get higher than a C in the class, then chances are that you should choose a subject that you are stronger in. It should be noted that some teachers do not base their recommendations on grades, but picking the right kind of teacher for a recommendation is vital in that you want the teacher to represent you in a good fashion.

Step 2. Plan Ahead of Time.

You should get ready for the big question with plenty of preparation. Be ready to provide a convincing argument that you are worthy of getting a rec. This is important so that when the teacher pops the question, “Why do you think I should write you a recommendation?” you will be ready. Making a list of reasons and facts that can answer this question are a good strategy to use during the big moment.

Step 3. Be Cool, Calm and Collected in the moment.

No matter what happens, make sure you keep your head up and be respectful. If the teacher is willing to take the time to write you a recommendation, be thankful. Don’t begin arguing with them, and don’t ask too many questions. Simply ask your teacher “Would you please be willing to write a rec for me?” and see what the response is. You will want to use similar strategies to being in a job interview, always make eye contact and speak clearly. It’s also crucial that you say “please” and be courteous towards the teacher. Just be cool, calm and collected and you should have no problem sending a good message to the teacher.

Step 4. Do the requirements.

Most teachers will ask for a specific requirement, like writing an essay about why you should be recommended by the teacher. They may also ask you to write about your success in their class, so this comes back to choosing the right class. The task may be moderately difficult, yet manageable. However, if it is too hard, then you are the only one to blame for asking.

Step 5. Send it Off and Write the Teacher a thank you note after the recs are sent, regardless of what schools you get into.

Once you’ve officially sent off the recommendation to the college of your choice, show gratitude toward the teacher who helped you take a shot at the college of your dreams. Be an old sport and shake the teacher’s hand for a job well done. Don’t forget that your teacher was generous enough to write you a rec, so always pay attention and participate in their class. Remember that teachers aren’t required to write you a rec, so if they do, then it is coming from the goodness of their heart. Recommendations are important, but asking for a recommendation might be difficult or nerve wracking. If you follow these steps and execute them properly, you’ll be sure to get the job done.