Quite a lot of effort goes into studying for the ACT, making your college lists and writing a knockout essay. Even though you might be a bit worn out, resist the temptation to take a laid back approach to securing your letters of recommendation. Many admissions counselors have said that a powerful letter is often the factor that leads to the “yes” pile.
You probably won’t be asking teachers until the semester is underway and application due dates are coming closer. But, you can take some steps now to give your recommenders exactly what they need to write an enthusiastic and personal vote of support that makes you stand out in the crowd.
I tell my students to pull together a request packet that includes a cover sheet of general details, a resume, and a brag sheet. Sounds a little egotistical but when framed correctly, it won’t read that way. And trust me – with all of the requests teachers, coaches and mentors get to write letters, they will appreciate the thoughtful details to personalize their reflections.
Drafting the brag sheet now will ensure you have plenty of time to present your recommenders with everything they need to write a letter that gets you in! Here are a few prompts to get you started on a brilliant brag.
What adjectives (2-4) describe you? Give specific examples or a story of a time when you exemplified these qualities.
What are your favorite subjects, or what classes influenced you during your high school years?
Describe and explain your pride in one accomplishment while in high school. This can be a project, a paper, sticking with it and mastering a difficult concept, learning how to work collaboratively, or anything else you’re proud of.
Describe a significant challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome. How did you do it? What did you learn from the experience?
What extracurricular activity has been most important to you? Why?
Have you decided on your college major or future career? If so, what is it? If you haven’t decided, what are you looking forward to exploring in college?
Over your four years in high school, what have you learned about yourself? How have you changed?
Slide your completed responses in that binder we’ve been talking about; ready for a quick touch up in a month or two.