Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013 - (Page 43)

planning ahead for college College recommendations: be ready by building relationships even if it will be several years before you apply to college, you may already be prepping for your sats, focusing on your extracurricular activities, and worrying about your grades. these are all important as you build a high school record that documents your readiness to succeed in college. But are you also laying the groundwork for the recommendations you will need? most students don’t think about them until the forms are actually in their hands and they must ask people to write recommendations. But, in fact, you should be building relationships with your counselor and teachers so that they will know you well enough to be able to write the kind of recommendations that will help you stand out in a selective applicant pool. What Makes a recommendation Effective? first and foremost, a recommendation must add information that is not already apparent from the rest of your application. having a teacher simply document your good performance in a class where you earned an “a” doesn’t add anything since the readers already know from your transcript that you did well in that class. the most effective recommendations focus less on your past achievements and more on how your problem-solving abilities and personal characteristics like motivation, persistence, character, ability to work with others, and willingness to work hard are predictive of your potential to excel in the future. But unless your counselor and teachers know you fairly well, they won’t be able to provide the insight that will help admissions staff see you as a person and not as numbers on a page. building relationships Virtually every college requires a recommendation from a counselor, which can be a challenge for students who attend large by linda E. brody, Edd high schools. But you can foster a relationship by discussing your interests and seeking advice on a fairly regular basis. demonstrate the careful thought you are putting into the college selection process. You might also share your goals for the future with your teachers, and show your motivation for learning by seeking advice about how to extend your learning beyond the classroom. ask them to recommend a summer program, to find a mentor for you, or to help you prepare for a competition. Classroom teachers who also support you in another role—as an academic advisor, advisor to a club or activity, or coach in a sport—are well suited to evaluate your performance across more than one setting. however, you can keep any of your teachers informed about any of your extracurricular pursuits that relate to their content area. tHInkStoCk • • When it’s time to Apply Carefully check the requirements for recommendations of each college to which you are applying, as they can vary in the number of teachers requested, their disciplines, and policies regarding supplemental recommendations. those that use the Common application will ask you to use its form, while other colleges may have their own recommendation forms or just ask for a letter. Choose teachers who know you well. if you have a choice, ask those who taught you within the last two years so they can comment on your current academic skills. if you opt to include supplemental recommendations, be sure they add something new to your application. mentors, coaches, music teachers, or someone who has observed your efforts in community service are good choices. When you are ready to request recommendations: • Ask well in advance of deadlines. if you apply under early decision or early action plans, you’ll need to ask for recommendations by the start of your senior • • • year, and some teachers like to write them over the summer. include deadlines, instructions, and forms. some high schools require recommendations to be sent to the guidance office to be submitted to the colleges with other information. if they are to be sent directly by your teachers, provide pre-addressed stamped envelopes or information for faxing or emailing them. Attach a brief resume as a reminder of some of the things you have done outside the classroom. Waive your right to see the recommendations. they will be treated more seriously by colleges if they know you haven’t seen them. As deadlines approach, check to be sure your recommendations were sent. it may be possible to check this with the colleges; if not, politely ask your recommenders if they sent them. be sure to follow up with thank you notes to everyone who recommended you. H opefully, taking the time to develop meaningful relationships with your counselor and teachers will lead to recommendations that will help you be admitted to the college of your choice. But such relationships are valuable in their own right: they can enhance your academic and personal development throughout high school by making you feel more connected to your teachers, to the subjects you are studying, and to the high school environment overall. imagine 43

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013
Big Picture
In My Own Words
Music to My Ears
Together as One
Circle of Inspiration
Six Strings and a Dream
In Pursuit of Joy
Jazz Studies, Improvised
Music in College
From the Great Wall to the Golden Gate
Sines and Wonders
Selected Opportunities & Resources
My Journey Through the College Admissions Process
How It Feels to Run
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013