Dear Teachers Who Write Letters of Recommendation

Thank you for writing numerous letters every year, often an extra duty added to an already lengthy list of duties. 

When teaching, it took me a while to figure out how to write a letter of recommendation, piecing together advice from more veteran colleagues. So, having asked many different admissions officers about useful letters of recommendation over the two decades of being an educational consultant, I wanted to pass along some suggestions for you to consider.  

First, write what you know about the student from direct experience. Recall any anecdotes or impressions from the student’s time in your class. Better yet, ask the student to recount any impactful moments, projects, discussions etc. from your class. Then, you can characterize the student’s academic potential, problem-solving resilience, and/or ability to work with others

Second, unless you’re the student’s coach or club sponsor, who can attest to their leadership, or commitment to a particular cause or interest, you don’t need to address the totality of a student’s high school experience. Your view of the student in collaborating with other students in your class is more impactful to admissions people. 

Thirdly, even though many kids ask for letters of recommendation at the last minute (sometimes on the deadline day), you can submit the letter of recommendation after the deadline, generally up to two weeks after the deadline. Admissions officers typically are sorting all applications for a few weeks before beginning to evaluate applicants. Only the student must submit their application by the deadline. 

While the job of teaching is already complicated, now even more complex in the current pandemic, so not to add pressure, but for Fall 2022 and beyond, admissions officers are likely more in need of your recommendation given your direct experience with a student. Amidst test-optional admissions, more students are emboldened to apply, and admissions officers still seek understanding of each individual, thus they apply greater scrutiny of every application to garner needed insight.

Educators who first taught and learned from the young in the modern high school classroom, now with 20 years of consulting experience, bring an understanding of the complexity of the modern teenager and the travails of parenting soon-to-be adults regarding their education to bear when advising families throughout the United States and around the globe. Contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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