Letters Of Recommendation: From A Teacher’s POV

A crucial element of the college process is acquiring letters of recommendation from teachers in order to aid your chances of being accepted into the top universities. There’s no better way to get an understanding of how this process worked than interviewing Kingsway’s AP Psychology teacher, Michael Coller:

Q: What process should students go through to get a letter of recommendation written for them?

“First, they should communicate with guidance about the process, as they are professionals. Secondly, they should think about their majors and what teachers may be able to write a letter based on their interests in various possible majors…Finally, they should think about the relationships they have with various teachers, coaches, counselors, or administrators throughout their history in high school. It is best to get a letter from someone who knows you really well and can speak on more than just the window of time they spent with you in whatever aspect that may have been… You should expect the teacher to write a letter of truth.”

Q: When should students ask teachers to write a letter for them?

“Spring of junior year is a great time to request them. You can request them in fall as well but…our [teachers’] worlds are jammed packed with starting a school year and there are many things that happen behind the scenes in the opening of a school year”

Q: What information should students give to a teacher to ensure their letter is as strong as possible?

“This depends on the teacher’s angle of writing letters. I’m a salesman by nature…so I prefer to have info that demonstrates how busy you have been and successful in school. I try to establish that you have a loaded schedule and demonstrate strong performance in all or many areas, or that you overcome the stressors of handling a loaded schedule…Just know though that other teachers may take a different approach”

Q: How should students decide what teachers to ask for recommendation letters?
“You need to find teachers that you want to write about you.
Being a good student isn’t always all it takes. Building relationships with people you are going to spend a significant amount of time with is important. We are writing letters to an institution providing our word that you are worthy. That is not something we as professionals take lightly. My word is only as strong as the truth it provided. I think those are things the youth should consider when asking for such a significant piece of their application process.”