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Sunday, March 2, 2014

College Crash Course Part 11: Letters of Recommendation


Most universities and scholarship boards require applicants to submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher. This can be tricky for homeschoolers since colleges do not want letters from parents.

When my daughter began her college application process, she had never completed a class outside the home except for an online dual enrollment course through Liberty University. She was enrolled in classes her senior year but barely knew the instructors when she started applying to colleges. My daughter ended up asking for letters of recommendation from her ballet instructors and mock trial coaches.   

It’s important to begin thinking early about letters of recommendation and which teachers you want to write them. Plan for your child to ask for the letter toward the end of the course or immediately upon completion of it. It’s vital that you ask for this letter well in advance of the application due date.  

Although your child may feel awkward asking for a letter that highlights what an outstanding person he is, instructors do not mind writing these letters. My husband and I, as well as our mock trial co-coach, have written many letters of recommendation for our homeschool mock trial team members. 

When requesting a letter, it’s important that your child reminds the instructor of his achievements both inside and outside the class. It’s also nice to include with the letter a resume of your child’s activities, jobs, and accomplishments. 

If there is something specific the college or scholarship committee needs the instructor to do (such as fill out a form on the website) let the instructor know. One scholarship letter I wrote needed a great deal of information about the student’s leadership qualities. Consequently, that was the focus of my letter, and the student received the scholarship over hundreds of other applicants. If the instructor is required to mail the letter of recommendation to someone specific, send him a stamped envelope with the proper forwarding address.

Letters of recommendation can be very affirming for your child. Though he will most likely never have the chance to read the letters, he can be encouraged knowing that important figures in his life believe enough in him and his accomplishments to boldly recommend him to his college of choice.


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