1. Think about who knows you and can attest to the quality of your work. If you need a recommendation from a teacher, request one from a teacher in an academic subject who knows your strengths. That may be a teacher in whose class you’ve gotten top grades, but it could also be a teacher who knows how hard you’ve worked to get B’s and C’s.
2. If you need three recommendations—one from a counselor, an academic teacher, and another person—consider requesting one from someone who knows you well: a coach, employer, adult co-worker, religious or youth-group leader, or an adult in the community with whom you have had regular and positive contact. If you would like one from your counselor, see them to obtain a recommendation packet.
3. Ask the person if he or she would be willing to write a letter for you. Remember, the person is doing you a favor.
4. Submit information about yourself (résumé, brag sheet), the recommendation form (if there is one), and other pertinent information to the writer at least two weeks before it needs to be completed. Remember, the deadline is the last possible day the letter/application may be received by the admissions or scholarship committee, not the day you put it in the mail.
5. Set your own deadline at least one week before you need to mail your application letter.
6. If the writer is to send your letter separately, provide a stamped, addressed envelope with a note attached listing a deadline for mailing that is at least five days before the application deadline. Politely check with the writer to be certain your letter was mailed (“How’s my letter coming? Do you need any more information?”).
7. Write a brief thank-you note to the writer.
8. If you receive the scholarship or are accepted to the college for which the letter was written, let the writer know.
9. Copy all parts of your application, essay, letters, and other materials for your own records.
10. Let the guidance office know when you have a response from the college or scholarship committee, one way or the other.