With the fall application cycle in full swing, students are bombarding popular teachers with recommendation requests. Not so fast. Here’s what to think about when making decisions on who to ask. Choose a teacher/professor from junior or senior year in a core subject (math, science, English, social studies, language) who can speak to your overall academic excellence. What characteristics help define this excellence? If you take a look at the Common Application teacher evaluation form (www.commonapp.org), you’ll see that students are rated on a scale from below average to very good (above average) to one of the top five across several categories as compared to other kids in the class . Understand the categories (see below) by which you’ll be compared to classmates and think about whether or not the teacher you’ve chosen can rate you at high levels. Meet with the teacher and have an honest discussion on what he or she feels is a fair evaluation. If you’re getting any hesitancy, think about Plan B. Many times, the teacher recommendation is a tie breaker so doing your homework ahead and choosing appropriate teachers could be the difference between an admit or a deny.

Teacher Evaluation/Categories

Academic achievement
Intellectual promise
Quality of writing
Creative, original thought
Productive class discussion
Respect accorded by faculty
Disciplined work habits
Maturity
Motivation
Leadership
Integrity
Reaction to setbacks
Concern for others
Self-confidence
Initiative, independence

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