How should students ask for a college recommendation letter?


Katy Clark

Teachers writing their letter of recommendation always start with a cordial opening and introduce their student to the admissions office.

Katy Clark, Senior Staff Writer

Students at Amador are filling out college applications and need letters of recommendation from their teachers but there is are specific guidelines that need to be followed in order to show respect to the school staff.

 “I know a lot of teachers are trying to teach the proper etiquette [to students],” said AP Biology and Human Body Systems teacher Renee Ogle.

Teachers at Amador have  asked that students ask for the letter in person instead of simply sending an invitation through the Common Application.

 “I refuse to do those and I know many of my colleagues will refuse to do them as well. We will not write a letter unless we have been approached by the student,” said AP US History teacher  Mairi Wohlgemuth.

A recommendation letter is a task done completely on a teacher’s own time, outside of their teaching responsibilities. It takes time and effort on their behalf, and therefore it is up to the student to show appreciation for the person writing their letter.

“I don’t know if they understand that teachers are not compensated for our time we write letters. It’s not like the school district [asks] how many letters do you have and [says] we will release you from teaching for a day so you can work on your letters,” said Wohlgemuth.

Teachers also have to have enough time to put the thought and care into the letters and should not feel rushed to finish in a short period of time. Proper etiquette for a senior is to ask at least a month before the deadline. 

“If you do not have at least a month’s notice you probably should not ask,” said Ogle.

Students looking to find a teacher for a recommendation letter should go to someone that they have made an impact on. Whether that be helping outside of the class, participating in class discussions, or coming to the class’s office hours, students should have a personal connection with their writer or have done something for them going beyond the basic  academic requirements.

You should explain why you are asking that teacher. What is it about that teacher that makes you feel connected to them or what about their class is causing you to come to them rather than other teachers,” said Ogle.

Some students they have been asking teachers that they have known for more than a year. These are the individuals who have seen them grow from freshman into seniors and can truly account for their growth, change, and development throughout their high school career. 

“So far I asked Mrs. Zuanich. I have had her for two years and a semester. I thought she would be a good teacher to ask. I asked for [the recommendation] in person first,” said Greeshma Gundavaram (‘22).

Next spring after figuring out their college plans, teachers have asked that students come back to visit and tell them where they have ended up. Teachers who have written these letters to better their student’s chances of getting into college and want to congratulate those they have worked hard to help. 

I think the best joy out of writing a letter is when they come back in the spring and they tell me what university or college they have been accepted to  and which one they are committed to. I just think that is so fulfilling, like yay we did it,” said Wohlgemuth.

Check out the AVtv Segment Here: The Road to College-The Letter of Recommendation Process