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A Guide to Teacher Recommendations

An important part of the boarding school admissions process is the completion of teacher recommendations. The recommendations allow the schools you’re applying to get an idea of what you’re like as a student. They come from the individuals who know you best: your teachers. Here, we’ve outlined five frequently asked questions about teacher recommendations.

How many teacher recommendations do I need?

Typically, your school will request at least two recommendations from your teachers. These are usually directed to your English and math teachers, but some schools will also ask for a science recommendation. Beyond these, your school may also request a principal or counselor’s recommendation.

How do I ask my teacher to complete a recommendation?

Some students are nervous asking for a recommendation, but if you explain to your teachers why you’re applying to boarding school, they will most likely be supportive of your new educational endeavor. Ask nicely, and give your teachers plenty of advance notice and a set deadline to submit. Make the process easy for your teachers. If the school has a paper form to complete, be sure to print it out for your teacher and provide them with an addressed and stamped envelope to make it easier for them to return. If the application is to be done online, send your teachers an email with a direct link to access, and again, remind them of a deadline. It’s always nice to follow up with a thank you note.

My teacher doesn’t know me well. Can I ask my teacher from last year instead?

The school to which you’re applying needs a recommendation from your current teacher, regardless of how well you think she knows you. But, often you are given optional personal recommendations to complete, and you can ask another teacher to complete one of those. If you have specific concerns, talk to your admission office to see what they recommend.

What if my teacher is late submitting the recommendation?

Don’t let this happen. As the applicant, it’s your responsibility to check in with your teacher and remind them of the deadline. Don’t pester them constantly though, and definitely don’t wait until the day before it’s due. When you ask your teacher to complete the recommendation, make sure they clearly know the deadline, and ask them to let you know when it’s done. If you haven’t heard from them and the deadline is approaching, about two weeks before it’s due, do another check in.

Can I read my teacher’s recommendation?

Teacher recommendations are typically confidential. The goal is for the teacher to give a full and honest review of you as a student, including your strengths and areas of improvements. Your teacher’s honesty will help the admission team decide if you are a good fit for their academic program, and in turn, if their academic program is a good fit for you. And, keep in mind that having areas in which you need to improve is something that the admission team expects to learn about you. No one has mastered every aspect of every subject, and there’s always room to improve.

Want more tips on completing your boarding school application? Check out these articles on SSAT, the application, the interview process, visiting campus, and writing your boarding school essay.

Stacy Jagodowski

Written by Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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