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College Application Information

Resources for Letters of Recommendation

When do you need a letter of recommendation?

  • Public Universities (including University of Washington and the University of California schools) do not need letters of recommendation.  There are exceptions to this rule occasionally. For instance, you may need a letter for a special program or scholarship, or when you do not meet admissions criteria and apply using the alternate admissions/extended application process.  In these cases please see your counselor before requesting a letter of recommendation.

  • Most private colleges and universities will need 1-2 teacher letters of recommendation and a counselor letter of recommendation.  Many (over 900) private colleges and universities use the Common Application.  You will invite recommenders to your Common Application in order to upload your letter (see information below).  This is the most common method of applying to private schools, although some schools will use their own, the Universal, or Coalition applications. (University of Washington uses the Coalition Application exclusively, although it does not require letters or transcripts.)  

  • Sometimes you will need letters of recommendation for scholarships.  Scholarships usually ask the student and recommenders to address specific traits and qualities in their letter of recommendation, so be sure to let your recommender know what the scholarship is about and what they are looking for when you request a letter.  

The Process:

Please make sure to abide by the following process when requesting a letter of recommendation from a teacher:

Letters are to be requested AT LEAST 15 WEEKDAYS prior to the postage deadline or application due date.

  1. Meet with your counselor to discuss letters of recommendation and the application process.

  2. Once you and your counselor have decided on the appropriate teachers, fill out the form for EACH teacher. Remember:  You may have a maximum of two teacher recommendations.  Many universities, however, only require one letter, so be sure to check requirements before requesting a second letter.  A third letter is only allowed in unique circumstances – seek counselor approval before requesting a third letter, even if you plan to make the request to someone outside of school.  Public schools (OSU, UO, etc.) usually do not require a recommendation for their general application.  Talk to your counselor if you have a unique circumstance.

  3. Schedule a time that is convenient for the teacher to ask if they would be willing to write you a POSITIVE letter of recommendation.  Once they agree, complete the forms below and either print out and give to, or share the Google Form with your teacher or counselor.

  4. WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE TO ALL TEACHERS WHO WRITE YOU A LETTER.

ISB Forms:

  • Letter of Recommendation Request Form - This is a Google Doc. Make a copy for each teacher and counselor, changing the teacher and counselor-specific questions. Then, either print out and give to the teacher or share the doc (ask the teacher what they prefer).   Please remember that being specific and providing examples is IMMENSELY helpful for teachers and counselors. 

 

Advice from ISB teachers:

Ms. Schuff

Mr. Kobrowski

YouTube Videos for help with the Common App:

Introduction to the Recommendation Process

Inviting and Assigning Recommenders

The CommonAppMedia YouTube channel has many useful tutorials that may be helpful as you complete the Common Application.