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Dear Student:
The wonderful world of recommendation letters, wow… this just keeps getting better.   

The recommendation letter is just another tool that a college or university will use to get to know their applicants a little better.   Its purpose is similar to that of the college essay and interview as it can set you apart from the thousands of other applicants and bring you one step closer to receiving your acceptance letter.   Unlike a poorly written essay or that interview gone wrong (not to say that it will happen to you), the great thing about a recommendation letter is that it always carries more weight than essays and interviews and it is usually always positive.   But just because the letters might be positive doesn't mean that a college will find a recommendation letter meaningful.  

Colleges will usually provide three forms for recommendation letters that can be found inside their applications.   Two recommendation letters will usually have to be given to teachers and the third to a guidance counselor.   You should ask teachers who know you pretty well and have taught you in either your junior or senior year.   Colleges may also allow additional recommendation letters that can be given to others such as those who know your special talents and character well (music or art teachers, coaches, etc.).  

Some people and especially parents believe that recommendation letters from famous and important people in the community can be more influential in the admissions process.   Such people may include community leaders, business people, politicians, religious leaders, and people from other walks of life. Though this may or may not be true in some cases, what is important is the content of the recommendation letter.

But it is most important to keep in mind that the recommendation letters must strongly endorse your qualities, and should strongly recommend you for admission to college, whoever writes it.  That carries weight everywhere.  It should be written by someone who has personal knowledge of you.   Remember that a good strong recommendation letter carries a lot of weight.  A luke warm letter will do little good.  

Try to bring out your good qualities as much as possible.  The admissions officers are trying to gauge your character and find out what sort of a person you are, your commitment to anything you undertake, and your qualities.  Signs of qualities they are looking for in a good student include: originality, creativity, sense of humor, intelligence, intellectual promise, curiosity, special talents, studious, excellence in studies, hard work, capacity for growth, punctuality, integrity, independence of thought, leadership abilities, leadership potential, social skills, intuitiveness, enthusiasm, spirit of adventure, kindness, generosity, reliability, ability to express yourself clearly, effectively, and concisely, etc.   A good recommendation letter must bring out such of these qualities that you possess.  

Hopefully when the time comes for you to start applying to college, you will have a good idea of what field of studies you will pursue your major.   By knowing your major ahead of time, you will know which teachers to ask for a recommendation letter, but don't worry if you're still unsure.      

When college season rolls around, chances are that teachers will be bombarded with tons of recommendation letters.  To relieve some of the burden to teachers, you should ask your teachers ahead of time so that they have enough time to complete your letter and send it off to schools.  You should also provide your teacher/referee with (1) the respective college's recommendation form, (2) a stamped envelope addressed to the respective institution's admissions office, and (3) a self-addressed stamped post card (addressed to you) with the teacher's/referee's name typed on the other side.   When the college receives the completed letter from the teacher, they will acknowledge receipt and return the post card back to you.   It is a good idea to give the teacher/referee a copy of your resume.  

It is nice to keep those who recommended you updated on your situation once you have received the acceptance/rejection letter in the mail.   Also let them know which colleges or universities that you got into and where you plan to go.   They will appreciate it and they will be proud of you.  

PLEASE NOTE:  This information is presented here for Freshmen College Applicants to avail themselves of this material when they are preparing to apply for freshmen admission to various colleges in the USA.  The information is displayed at this web site: accessible and FREE to any individual interested in applying to colleges in USA for said individual's personal use.  No other use - for commercial or any other purpose - is permitted without the express written consent of 

We hope that these tips have helped you get that strong recommendation that every student and university desires and we hope that has brought you one step closer to getting into that college or university of your choice.   GOOD LUCK!!!    

For comments, please contact us.                June 1, 1999.    

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