Advice about Letters of Recommendation

Students are advised to request the letters 6-8 weeks prior to the application deadline, ideally from two academic teachers: history, English, language other than English, math, or science, plus their high school counselor.

Students should select teachers with whom they built a trusting relationship, regardless if a teacher’s academic expertise is related to their potential major. Thus, a student aiming to learn Biology doesn’t need to choose a STEM teacher as a recommender. However, keep in mind that there are exceptions, like MIT, which do require subject specific teachers.

Students can meet with each of their teachers, sharing anecdotes about their experiences in class, or even challenges overcome. Then, recommenders can craft more individualized, compelling recommendations, highlighting a student’s problem solving skills and teamwork—needed information for an admissions officer.  

Many students are concerned that their counselor may not be able to provide a personalized letter due to a lack of a relationship, especially if they were recently assigned a new counselor. To compensate, typically, students are required to complete intricate forms, which can include: resumes, written responses, parent brag letters. Additionally, students can meet with counselors. Then, counselors have a reference for the student, when completing their letters of recommendation.

Helping others apply to college every year for two decades, Jill Yoshikawa is masterful at navigating online college applications. Contact her to find out how she can assist you for the exact moment when you’ll need her most.

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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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