Most college applicants put little effort into letters of recommendation. After all, the letters are the one part of the application over which you have very little control. Nevertheless, letters of recommendation often do play an important part in the college admissions process. A college can tell a lot about you from the comments and observations provided by your teachers and coaches, and a negative letter can weaken an application significantly.
So while you don't have control over how strongly someone recommends you, there are steps you can take to make sure you get the best letters possible. A few tips:
- Ask the right people -- you're better off getting a letter from a teacher who knows you well than a famous person who is a distant family acquaintance
- Make sure your recommenders know what your college goals are
- Give your recommenders lots of lead time to write the letters
- Ask politely and thank your recommenders for volunteering the significant time and effort that goes into writing a good letter
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