College Transitions

College Recommendation Requirements

Hopefully, you won’t be asking your high school teachers to write you a letter of recommendation hours before the application deadline. In fact, we recommend locking down your recommenders well in advance . Enlightened College Applicants will get ahead of the game by utilizing our user-friendly list of recommendation requirements at over 400 premier colleges and universities. Also included is whether each institution requires a recommendation from a guidance counselor.

*Data collected from institution websites.

Table updated August 2022

*In addition to the School Report form that counselors are also required to complete (for most schools).

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Important Addresses

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University Hall Cambridge, MA 02138

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Application Requirements

We look forward to learning about you through your application.

Here you'll find a detailed explanation of each admission application requirement. Most of the information here applies to both first-year and transfer applicants. Don't forget to reference our Application Tips for guidance on filling out the Common Application.


We accept the Common Application  and the Coalition Application, Powered by Scoir . Both are treated equally by the Admissions Committee. Complete and submit your materials as soon as possible to ensure full and timely consideration of your application. If you use the Common Application, you must submit your application before your supporting materials (Secondary School Report, Teacher Reports, etc.) can be released to a college. Until you submit your own application sections, no part of your application will be transmitted to the Harvard Admissions Office.

Submitting Your Application

Receiving confirmation of your application.

After you submit your application, we will send an email confirmation with a PIN to access the Applicant Portal. We begin sending these daily application confirmation emails in mid-September each year. Most applicant receive their confirmation email the day after they submit their application online. Applications sent in the mail will take up to two weeks to process.

If you have not received your confirmation email, please check your spam/junk folder for messages from [email protected] or [email protected] 

If have searched your inbox and still cannot find your confirmation email, we encourage you to check the application system you used and ensure you clicked "Submit" and not just "Save".

If you still cannot locate your application confirmation email, please contact us . Choose the category “Admissions” and then the subject “Applicant Questions (if you've already submitted your application)” in the drop-down menu, or call 617-495-1551.

Paying the application fee or requesting a fee waiver

You may pay your application fee online with a credit card via the Common Application or Coalition Application, Powered by Scoir websites.

You may also send a check or money order to Harvard College Admissions, 86 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Please include the applicant’s name with the payment.

Fee waivers: We are committed to making the application process accessible for all students. If the admissions application fee presents a hardship for you or your family and you plan on applying for financial aid, the fee will be waived. Please follow these instructions to request your fee waiver . Requesting a fee waiver will not disadvantage your application in any way.

Completing the Harvard supplement questions

Complete the Harvard Questions with the Common Application or Coalition Application, Powered by Scoir.

Additional application questions

What if i am homeschooled.

Each applicant to Harvard College is considered with great care and homeschooled applicants are treated the same as all other applicants. There is no special process, but all relevant information about your educational and personal background is welcome. In addition to the application, all applicants are required to submit a transcript (which can be created by the family member or agency overseeing your schooling), and recommendations. If the application fee presents a hardship for your family,  simply request a fee waiver .

Hear from Harvard students who were homeschooled, in the Harvard Gazette article ‘ Homeschooled en route to Harvard .’

What if I need to make updates to my application after I submit it?

Do not resend your application in order to make updates. If you need to update your identification or contact information, or send updates, additional information, or corrections, please do so via the  Applicant Portal .

Misrepresentation of Credentials

Be completely accurate in your application materials. If we discover a misrepresentation during the admissions process, you will be denied admission. If you have already been admitted, your offer will typically be withdrawn. If you have already registered, your admission will normally be revoked, and we will require you to leave the College. Harvard rescinds degrees if misrepresentations in application materials are discovered.

The determination that an application is inaccurate or contains misrepresentations rests solely with the Admissions Office and will be resolved outside the student disciplinary process.

School Reports and Teacher Recommendations

Midyear school report.

When you apply, your school counselor will often send your transcript with few or no senior year course grades included. That is why the midyear school report is required - to allow us to review your performance in the first half of your senior year coursework .  The midyear school report must be completed by your school counselor or other school official. Please request that the midyear school report is completed and returned to our office as soon as possible. 

Midyear School Report FAQs

What if i'm applying restrictive early action and i don't have my midyear grades yet.

Restrictive Early Action applicants are not required to submit the midyear report by the November 1 deadline. If you applied Restrictive Early Action and are deferred to Regular Decision, please submit the midyear report and transcript in February, or as soon as your midyear grades are available.

I'm an international student and my academic year is different. Do I still need to submit the midyear report?

If you study the IB curriculum or the A-level curriculum, then we expect that your school will send predicted grades, based on your current classroom work and the results of any internal or mock exams you have taken up to that point. If your school does not issue official or predicted midyear grades for your final year of school, then you do not need to submit the midyear report form, although the item may remain on your checklist.

What if I have already graduated from high school?

If you have already graduated from high school, you should ignore the midyear report requirement (though the item may remain on your Checklist in the Applicant Portal) and simply ask your school to send a final school report if you have not already done so.

Teacher Evaluations

Ask two teachers in different academic subjects who know you well to complete the Teacher Evaluation forms. If you wish to submit additional letters of recommendation, you can do so after you submit your application. In your application confirmation email, there will be a personalized link to send to your recommenders.

What courses should I take to prepare for applying to Harvard?

There is no “one size fits all” rule about which curriculum to study during secondary school years. Students should challenge themselves by taking courses deemed appropriate by their teachers and counselors. But some students believe that “more is always better” when it comes to AP, IB or other advanced courses.

While some students prosper academically and personally by taking large numbers of such courses, others benefit from a more balanced approach that allows them additional time for extracurricular and personal development. Even the best students can be negatively affected by taking too many courses at once, and might benefit instead from writing, reading or research projects on subjects of great interest to them.

To learn more, read our Guide to Preparing for College. To avoid the “burnout” often seen among secondary school students, please refer to our article, Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation .

Is there a specific math requirement?

Applicants to Harvard should excel in a challenging high school math sequence corresponding to their educational interests and aspirations. We recommend that applicants take four years of math courses in high school. Ideally, these math courses will focus on conceptual understanding, promote higher-order thinking, and encourage students to use mathematical reasoning to critically examine the world. Examples include rigorous and relevant courses in computer science, statistics and its subfields, mathematical modeling, calculus, and other advanced math subjects.

Students’ math records are viewed holistically, and no specific course is required. Specifically, calculus is not a requirement for admission to Harvard. We understand that applicants do not have the same opportunities and course offerings in their high schools. Moreover, many programs of study at Harvard do not require knowledge of calculus. We encourage applicants to take the courses that are available to them and aligned with their interests and goals.

Students intending to study engineering, computer science, physics, mathematics, statistics or other fields where calculus is needed may benefit from taking calculus in high school. However, students at Harvard can still pursue such fields by starting with one of our introductory calculus classes that has no high school calculus prerequisite. On balance, we encourage all students to master foundational mathematical material instead of rushing through any of the more advanced courses.

Final School Report and Transcripts

All admitted students who choose to enroll are required to send a Final School Report and transcript as soon as their final grades become available – no later than July 1. The Final School Report and transcript should be completed and sent by a school counselor or other school official through Parchment/Docufide or Scrip-Safe International, if your school has access to these submission options.

IB students should send their final results as soon as they are released in mid-July. We will expect to see final A levels results by mid-August.

Standardized Test Scores

For the College Classes of 2027-2030, students may apply for admission without standardized test scores. Please read our announcement for more details on the application changes for the upcoming cycles. 

If you choose to submit standardized tests, you may submit the SAT or ACT (with or without the writing component). While the College Board no longer offers Subject Tests and they are not a requirement for applying, you may submit Subject Tests taken in the last 5 years. If you choose to submit Subject Tests, it is more useful to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful.

Standardized Testing FAQs

How do i let harvard know whether i would like my application reviewed with or without test scores.

When you apply for admission, you can choose whether or not our review of your application will include your standardized test scores (SAT and ACT).

Can I self-report my test scores?

Yes. Applicants may provide self-reported SAT and ACT test scores (including Subject Tests, Advanced Placement, IB, etc.). Admitted students who decide to enroll at Harvard College will be required to submit official test scores.

How do I send my test scores?

You are free to use the College Board Score Choice option or the similar option offered by the ACT. Our official codes are 3434 for the College Board SAT Reasoning Tests and 1840 for the ACT if you are submitting official test scores as part of your application.

Are there test score "cutoffs"?

There are no score cutoffs, and we do not admit “by the numbers.” For the ACT, we will evaluate your highest composite score and any other scores you choose to share with us. We take into account your educational background when reviewing your scores.

Should I prepare for standardized tests?

Opportunities to prepare for standardized tests vary greatly for students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Research indicates that short term test preparation usually has little effect, but the free “test prep” now offered by the SAT and the ACT might make a significant difference for students who follow their programs for extended periods of time. Such free programs could help to level the playing field for students from under-resourced schools by providing the academic skills that will serve them well on standardized tests and also in college. Students can also do well by studying widely and deeply over a long period of time on their own with the help of family, school, or community organizations.

What do standardized tests and grades indicate about academic preparation for college?

Standardized tests provide a rough yardstick of what a student has learned over time and how that student might perform academically in college - but they are only one of many factors considered. High school grades in a rigorous academic program can also be helpful in assessing readiness for college courses, but the thousands of secondary schools around the country and the world employ various high school curricula and a wide range of grading systems - and some have no grades at all. Other students have been homeschooled or prepared for college by taking part in multiple schooling opportunities both in person and electronic.

Given the wide variation in how students prepare for Harvard – as well as the fact that most applicants and admitted students have outstanding academic records – it is difficult for high school grades to differentiate individual applications. That does not mean that high school grades are unimportant. Students who come to Harvard have done well day to day in their high school studies, providing a crucial foundation for academic success in college, including a 97% - 98% graduation rate.

SAT and ACT tests are better predictors of Harvard grades than high school grades, but this can vary greatly for any individual. Students who have not attended well-resourced schools throughout their lives, who come from modest economic backgrounds or first-generation college families have generally had fewer opportunities to prepare for standardized tests. Each application to Harvard is read with great care, keeping in mind that talent is everywhere, but opportunity and access are not.

Does Harvard accept SAT Subject Test scores?

As announced by the College Board, Subject Tests and the essay portion of the SAT have been terminated, except in certain special circumstances. See the  College Board's announcement for more details. Harvard admission officers review all material that an applicant submits, so if you have already taken Subject Tests or the essay portion of the SAT, you may still submit it along with your other application materials.

How do I choose whether to submit my standardized test score?

Choosing whether or not to submit test scores is a personal decision for every applicant. There are many reasons why students do not submit test scores, including expense. In general, though, anything that might give a more complete or positive picture of an applicant can be helpful. Even if you feel your test scores do not fully represent your strengths, perhaps because of a lack of resources at your school or limited opportunities to prepare for or take the tests, you could note this fact in your application to provide context. There are no score cutoffs and we do not admit “by the numbers.”

Why can't I view my standardized test scores in the Common Application?

Since Harvard College is not requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores for the 2022-2026 application cycles , your standardized scores will not display in the Common Application PDF preview, even if you have chosen to submit them. However, if you entered your test score information and would like it to be considered, that data will still be transmitted to us with your application and we will review it. You can verify this by viewing the Application Checklist in your Applicant Portal. You will see a green check mark if we have received your standardized test scores.

How will Harvard evaluate the new digital SAT?

The College Board's shift to a digital delivery of the SAT will not impact the way in which Harvard reviews test scores within applications. For the College Classes of 2027-2030, students may apply for admission without standardized test scores. Students who do not submit standardized test scores will not be disadvantaged in their application process. Please  visit the College Board FAQs  for more information.  

Supplemental Materials

Our standard application materials typically give us ample information for making admission decisions. However, we recognize you may have truly exceptional talents or achievements you wish to share, and we want you to have every opportunity to best represent yourself.

At the discretion of the Admissions Committee, supplementary materials—such as music recordings, artwork, or selected samples of academic work—may be evaluated by faculty. These materials are entirely optional.

Material Types

How to submit documents and articles.

Scholarly articles, research, creative writing or other documents of which you are the primary author should be submitted in the Upload Materials section of the Applicant Portal . This is the most efficient and direct method of submitting these materials, because they will be added directly to your official application. All submissions should include a list of any individuals with whom you collaborated in the production of the work. If appropriate, please identify your research sponsor, mentor, and/or laboratory or research group leader and provide a short description of your particular contribution to the work.

How to submit media (video, audio, or images)

You may submit optional supplementary media materials (e.g. videos, audio recordings, or images) electronically via Slideroom . Details for submissions in art, dance or choreography, musical performance or composition, will be found on the Slideroom website. There is a small submission fee, but if this fee causes you economic hardship, you may request a fee waiver at the point of submission. You may also contact us to request a fee waiver.

Should I submit other academic materials?

Harvard accepts other standardized tests or other academic credentials if you choose to submit them. In any admissions process, additional information can be helpful. For example, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-levels, national leaving examinations, national or international contests, early high school assessment scores such as the PSAT or pre-ACT, or courses taken outside your school during the school year or summer are just some examples of information that could be submitted. Subject Tests and the essay portion of the SAT have been terminated, except in certain special circumstances. Harvard admission officers review all materials that an applicant submits, so if you’ve already taken Subject Tests or the essay portion of the SAT, you may still submit them along with your other application materials.

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How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for College

Admissions experts offer advice on how to get the strongest recommendations from the best sources.

How to Get a Letter of Recommendation

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Obtaining high-quality letters of recommendation takes time and planning. (Getty Images)

Letters of recommendation from teachers, school counselors and other sources can help college admissions officers get a more complete picture of applicants.

They give admissions offices a "third dimension" as to who students are as individuals, says Peter Wilson, deputy dean and executive director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Chicago .

"They tell us what a student is like and how they perform in their classroom and overall community," Wilson says. "They tell us how a student would interact with their peers, so they’re giving us a sense of, when you come to our campus, how are you going to interact with our faculty and what are you going to be like in a classroom setting?"

While just one part of the college application process, it's an important one, experts say. These letters play a bigger role than many students might think, says Richard Tench, a school counselor at St. Albans High School in West Virginia.

"This really paints the bigger picture," he says. "When admissions looks at files, everyone’s going to have a transcript. Everyone is going to have extracurriculars. But those only speak so far. I think those personal stories and those stories of perseverance or their true passion that come out in the letters are what set (some applicants) apart."

Obtaining high-quality letters of recommendation usually doesn't happen overnight – it takes time and planning. Understanding the role that recommendation letters play in the application process can help students plan properly and avoid common pitfalls, experts say.

Here's what high school students need to know about how to ask for letters of recommendation for college applications .

Whom Should I Ask to Write Letters of Recommendation?

Admissions officers generally want to see letters of recommendation from high school teachers and counselors. But some colleges have more specific requirements than others. For example, the University of Chicago requires two letters of recommendation from teachers in "academic subjects," which include: "mathematics, social studies, history, science, English or literature, foreign language, and other courses in which you are doing substantial amounts of reading, writing, or class discussion," according to the school's admissions website .

Generally, students can include letters from elective teachers if that teacher and class are aligned with what they plan to major in, says Colleen Paparella, founder of DC College Counseling. For example, a student planning to major in vocal performance might seek a letter from the choir teacher, or a student planning to study art might seek a letter from the art teacher.

A college's website will usually spell out the exact requirements for letters of recommendation.

When it comes to letters of recommendation from teachers, students should approach the instructors with whom they have the best relationships, experts say. Ideally, this is someone who knows them well and can speak to both their academic and personal strengths.

It's important that students consider the context in which the recommender knows them, says Geoff Heckman, a school counselor at Platte County High School in Missouri.

“For instance, if you’re asking me as a school counselor to write a letter for you, it’s probably going to be about your academic promise, your integrity in the school, those pieces," he says. "But if you’re asking somebody like an employer, they’re probably going to be writing it from the perspective of your work ethic."

Students should also make sure they're asking recent teachers for recommendations, meaning those who taught them during the second half of high school. Typically, colleges are looking for recommendations from 11th grade teachers because they've most recently been with the student for a full academic year before applying, experts say.

"By the time an admissions officer reads the letter it’s going to be midway through 12th grade, and the teacher from 9th and 10th grade is going to seem really far away and it’s going to be a red flag," Paparella says. "It’s going to look like they didn’t have somebody more recent to ask."

A student with a part-time job may consider asking his or her manager for a recommendation, and athletes may think about asking their coaches, Goodman says. Such recommenders may be able to discuss some of a student's strengths that aren't as evident in a classroom setting.

How Should I Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

Students should generally ask teachers and counselors for letters of recommendation in person, Paparella says.

That may be more difficult in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as digital communication has been prioritized and the dynamic of teacher-student relationships has changed, says Steven Roy Goodman, an educational consultant and admissions strategist in the District of Columbia.

"Many students don't have relationships that they had in previous years because they didn't have ability to develop those relationships," Goodman says.

Students shouldn't panic if they aren't as close with their teachers as their siblings were, he says, noting that the effects of the pandemic on communication and relationships with teachers are still being felt.

At some high schools, students can request counselor recommendations online. And "many faculty members are very happy to schedule a Zoom call who weren't comfortable with that before the pandemic," Goodman says. "That's helped in some ways."

When Should I Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

Students should request letters of recommendation well in advance of an application deadline. Giving teachers, counselors and others ample time to write usually results in stronger recommendations.

Heckman encourages students at his high school to ask for recommendations in late spring or early summer of their junior year . This will give teachers and counselors time to work on a recommendation before seniors inundate them with requests midway through the fall.

Once students ask a teacher or counselor to write a letter of recommendation, they should allow at least two weeks for them to complete it. That gives everyone a fair amount of time to compose a well-written letter, he says.

Another reason not to procrastinate: Some teachers will commit to writing only a certain number of recommendations each year. Students who wait too long to ask may encounter teachers who have already hit their limit.

“Earlier is always better in the college process," says Eric Sherman, a premier college counselor for IvyWise, an educational consulting company. Another result of procrastination, he says, is that letters tend to be more general or shorter because teachers don't have as much time to be thoughtful.

"That’s not necessarily a red flag, but it can raise an eyebrow with admissions offices," he says. "It will essentially not hurt a student, but it might not help them in a way that it could have."

What Makes a Good Recommendation Letter?

Even if students have strong, years-long relationships with their teachers, experts say it's important not to assume they'll know what to include in the recommendation. Teachers are likely writing letters for other students as well, so preparing a list of things to write about will aid the recommender's memory and their writing process.

Sherman says students should supply information about a project or an assignment that was particularly impactful or important to them so that the recommender can address that.

Doing this can be the difference between a good letter and a bad letter, Paparella says.

Successful recommendation letters are descriptive, personal and are complementary to the application, not redundant, Sherman says.

Students should welcome the opportunity to list all of their accomplishments and qualities for the recommender, Heckman says.

"Really go over and above in talking about all of those characteristics that you possess," he says. "If you’re willing to say, ‘Hey, I think this is something that’s great,’ and I think it is, too, then together we can write a great letter.”

High schools may have a system to help with this process. Some counseling offices, for instance, ask students to complete a questionnaire to request a letter of recommendation. Heckman says students at his school fill out a Google form that gives recommenders direction on their letters.

“There are times when students want certain areas highlighted about them that you may not be as familiar with," Heckman says. "At times it’s necessary to know everything that a student is involved with so that you’re not only writing about what you know about that student, but also the other things that they want given attention to as well."

How Many Letters of Recommendation for College Do I Need?

The number of recommendations you will need depends on which colleges you are applying to, so check admissions requirements online.

Paparella says students should obtain two letters, regardless of whether the schools they're applying to ask for them. If students decide later during their senior year to apply to a school that requires them, already having those letters in hand can be crucial, she says.

"It’s better to have them and not need them than to scramble at the last minute to get one," she says.

In addition to what's required, some colleges give applicants the option to submit supplemental letters. It makes sense to ask for an additional letter if it can tell the admissions committee something new about a student, Goodman says.

But admissions officers aren't necessarily going to be impressed by a higher number of recommendations, nor will they likely have time to read them all, Paparella says. Students should include the letters that leave admissions officers with the strongest impression of them, she says.

How Do I Submit My Letters of Recommendation?

Students generally don't submit their own letters of recommendation. Teachers, counselors and other recommenders usually send them in electronically via whichever application platform a student is using, such as the Common App .

If it's getting close to the deadline and a recommender hasn't submitted a letter yet, Goodman says students should ask if the person needs anything else to complete the recommendation. This approach is more polite than saying, "I asked you three weeks ago and you haven't done it yet and the deadlines are coming up," Goodman says.

Though it won't have a direct impact on the admissions process, Wilson says he strongly recommends students write a thank you note to anyone who writes them a recommendation letter.

“We want those types of students in our community,” he says. "I don’t think (students) realize what a big role (these letters) have in our process. When you have 40,000 applicants, teacher recommendations are one of the ways that you can stand out in the process."

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Recommender guide

Get everything you need to complete your recommendations within the Common App system.


What is the Common App for recommenders?

Common App for recommenders helps you organize and submit letters of recommendation . Here, you can track requests, manage your school's information, and submit transcripts. The first-year Common App for recommenders has extra tools to track student progress on the Common App .

Get started

Create an account to begin completing recommender forms in the Common App.

To create a recommender account an applicant must first invite you as a recommender. 

Note: An applicant can invite you as more than one recommender, e.g. Teacher and Other Recommender.

Once an applicants adds you to their application, you'll receive an email invitation with a link to create an account. You have the option to decline an invitation or choose to use paper forms, if you wish.

When you open the invitation link, all you need to do is select a password to complete the process. If you want to update your name or email address, you can do so once you log in to your account. 

From there you can log in at any time and begin working on your recommender forms.

First Year Recommender Types

Transfer Recommender Types

Learn about the system

Take a tour and learn more about how the system works.

First Year Recommender System

The Common App for recommenders is divided into three sections: Students, Profile, and Resources. (Note: The Advisor role does not allow users to complete and submit forms.)

Transfer Recommender System

The Common App for transfer recommender system lets you complete and submit forms for all students who have invited you as a recommender. 

Complete forms

Learn what information you’ll be asked to provide about your students.

Each recommender role has a different type of form to complete, except for Advisors, who do not submit forms. Counselors, Teachers, and Other Recommenders all have the opportunity to upload a letter of recommendation and share how they know the applicant. 

To begin working on a student’s forms, click on their name in the Student section. 

Counselors and Teachers also have additional information to complete and share. 

To begin working on a particular recommendation, chose the “Start” or “Continue” button. At the top of the form you'll find some instructions on the form, as well as any notes or directions from your student.

Each recommender has the opportunity to share more about their relationship with their student and upload a letter of recommendation.

For more information about completing forms specific to your role, check out our tutorial videos.

Recommendation letters

Get tips and best practices on how to do it right.

Colleges look to recommendation letters to see applicants from different perspectives — to get to know them better and identify what makes them unique. 

Counselors can show an applicant within the context of their school community. They can address a student’s academic achievements, personal interests and goals.

Teachers write from the vantage point of the classroom. They can provide a view of an applicant’s intellectual curiosity, creative thought, and work habits.

Other recommenders help illustrate an applicant’s interests and pursuits outside of school. They can show how an applicant works in team, how they contribute to their community, what creative hobbies they’re pursuing, and more.

Writing guide for counselors and teachers

Last revised 01/08/21

Writing effective letters of recommendation

Last revised 01/05/21

Submit forms

Learn how you can submit forms and how they get to colleges.

Submitting forms in the Common App is simple, but before you begin, all required questions (marked with a red asterisk) must be complete. 

Once you’ve answered them, select the "Review and Submit" button. First you’re asked to review your form. Once submitted, it cannot be modified in any way so make sure all the information is correct. 

If the form looks correct, select the affirmations and then select the “Submit” button.

Important note: The Common App for recommenders is a one-and-done process. That means that once you submit a form, it’s sent to all the colleges you’re assigned to. That’s why it’s important not to customize your forms for a specific institution. 

Transfer recommenders:  The first time you submit a recommendation for a student you'll be asked if you want to reuse that form. This means any incomplete or future requests will automatically be submitted for you using the information in this recommendation. Because of that, please note you will not be able to review or edit these submissions. 


Find additional support with our Solutions Center

Undergraduate Admissions

Application Deadlines

Follow these steps to apply to Cornell. You can then use our checklist for first-year applicants to make sure you have all of the required elements together before submitting your application. 

1. Basic Requirements

Before you get started, be sure that you have completed all of the basic educational requirements outlined in the first-year college and school admissions requirements .

You will also need to decide to apply for early or regular decision. If Cornell is your first choice, consider applying under the early decision plan. Early decision applications are reviewed in the fall, and you will be notified in mid-December of Cornell’s decision. Before applying early decision, know that:

Cornell University will honor any required commitment to matriculate, which has been made to another college under an Early Decision plan.

2. Choosing a College

You will apply to only one undergraduate college or school at Cornell. Explore each of our undergraduate colleges and schools at the links below and see which fits you best before filling out your application:

Applicants are not permitted to change the college to which they have applied after they have submitted the application. Requests to change colleges will not be honored.

3. Application

Cornell uses the Common Application (CA) , which can be completed and submitted online. 

4. Application Supporting Materials

In addition to the application, Cornell requires that you submit the following forms. These forms can be found and submitted online at :

For Early Decision applicants, the Early Decision Agreement is incorporated into Cornell University’s application on the Common Application website. Look for the checkbox under Cornell University>Application>Questions>General. Applicants do not need to submit a separate agreement from their counselor.

5. Cornell University Supplemental Information

The Cornell Questions and Writing Supplement (CA) is required of all applicants, as it includes important Cornell-specific questions and required essays. This information helps us match your intellectual goals to the Cornell college or school to which you’re applying. 

6. Official Transcript

We require you to submit your official secondary/high school transcript(s) before the application deadline. This should be sent by your school online or can be mailed .

7. Standardized Test Scores

Cornell has suspended the SAT/ACT testing requirement for 2022, 2023, and 2024 applicants .

8. Application Fee or Fee Waiver

Applications must be submitted with a nonrefundable $80 application fee or fee waiver in order to be considered. Submitting the application and the fee or fee waiver begins the admission process and should be done as soon as possible to avoid delays.  Cornell cannot review your application without the $80 application fee or a fee waiver. 

Cornell University has an enduring commitment to equity and access for all students. If the $80 application fee would cause financial hardship for your family, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. Please follow the Common Application instructions to apply for a fee waiver. You will need to submit one of the following documents: 

If you cannot apply for a fee waiver by one of these methods, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office at 607.255.5241. Mail fee waiver documentation to:

Undergraduate Admissions Office Cornell University 410 Thurston Avenue Ithaca, NY 14850

9. Interviews

Students applying to the architecture program are required to participate in an interview as part of the admission process. Beginning in August, students may visit  to schedule an interview. Applicants to the Department of Art or Urban and Regional Studies are encouraged, although not required, to have an interview. For more information about these recommended interviews, students may visit the websites for the Department of Art or Urban and Regional Studies .

10. Additional Submissions

Some of our majors, like architecture, art, design & environmental analysis, and fashion design & management, do require additional forms, portfolios, or design indexes. Review the First-year College and School Admission Requirements page  to make sure you have all the required items for your intended major.

Boston College logo


Boston College

We review each application with a level of thoroughness and thoughtfulness that reflects the time and effort you have invested in Boston College. In making admission decisions, we consider grades, standardized test scores, what you do outside of school, teachers’ and others’ appraisals, and how you express yourself through writing.

Early Decision

Transfer Students

International Applicants

Questbridge Applicants

Homeschooled Applicants

Veteran and ROTC Applicants

Information for Counselors


Message from the Director

Before you begin the application process, hear from Office of Undergraduate Admission Director Grant Gosselin, who shares some advice and suggestions about applying to Boston College.

2022-2023 Application Requirements

Explore each requirement to learn more about our application review.

Check your Application Status

Common Application

Associate Director Chris O'Brien

Associate Director Chris O'Brien

For our undergraduate admission process, Boston College uses the Common Application. We require that all candidates submit their application electronically. Please make sure to carefully select your preference for Early Decision or Regular Decision consideration on the Common Application.

Selecting an Academic Division

Candidates are required to apply to one of the University's four undergraduate academic divisions: the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Carroll School of Management, Lynch School of Education and Human Development, or Connell School of Nursing. Students are only considered for admission to the division to which they applied. Students do not have to declare a specific major when applying (with the exception of Engineering* & Nursing.) Learn more about  choosing an academic division .

*For Fall 2022, approximately 50 first-year students will enroll in the Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) major. Because of the limited number of spaces in the entering cohort, HCE major applicants only will have the option to indicate a second major in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences on their application. If applicants are not offered admission to the HCE major, they may be considered for their second-choice major.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission deeply values the contributions made by a diverse community of scholars. Learn more about Boston College's  notice of nondiscrimination .

Boston College Writing Supplement

Associate Director Amy Chung

Associate Director Amy Chung

The Boston College Writing Supplement must be submitted along with your application to Boston College at . Please do not mail or email your essay response. 

All applicants, except those applying for the Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) major , should respond to one of prompts #1-5 listed below. Students applying to the HCE major must respond to prompt #6 only.

The writing supplement topics for the 2022-2023 application cycle (400 word limit):

Standardized Testing

I nternational applicants must submit TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test examination scores. Learn more about standardized testing and English proficiency requirements for international applicants.

High School Transcript

Associate Director Danielle Wells

Associate Director Danielle Wells

Curriculum Evaluation

Boston College looks for students who are in the most challenging courses available at their high schools. Our most competitive applicants tend to have a high school program with four years of the five main subjects: English, Math, Social Science, Natural Science, and Foreign Language. We do appreciate that high schools can offer a variety of programs and consider that in our application review.

Submitting Your Transcript(s)

All students are required to submit an official high/secondary school transcript. This transcript must be sent by your high school and can be submitted online at  or can be mailed (see below for address). Please note that we will not accept any academic credentials from students.

*In order to matriculate at Boston College, a student must submit a final high school transcript or a G.E.D. prior to enrollment.

Mailing Address: Boston College Undergraduate Admission 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Devlin 208 Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Supporting Materials

In addition to the Common Application, Boston College requires that you also submit the following materials:

The School Report and Counselor Recommendation Form  - Your counselor or school official should submit these forms. If your school uses its own school form, we will also accept that document. Traditionally the school form is submitted with a letter of recommendation from your college counselor and your official transcript. Teacher Evaluations  - You are required to submit two teacher evaluations as part of your application to Boston College. We recommend that these evaluations are written by teachers who have taught you in one of the five main academic subject areas (English, Social Studies, Science, Math, or Foreign Language). Mid-Year Grade Report (Regular Decision and Early Decision deferred candidates)  - We require that the Mid-Year Grade Report be submitted as soon as it is available by your counselor or designated school official.

Application Fee

The application fee of $80 or application fee waiver request must be submitted in order for your application to be reviewed. Your application fee should be submitted with your Common Application. Given the volume of applications Boston College receives, we strongly recommend that you submit the application fee online. If you are unable to submit the fee online, you should mail a check or money order.

*Fee Waiver Request

If submitting the $80 application fee presents a financial hardship for your family and you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may apply for an application fee waiver. You may apply for a fee waiver through the Common Application.

Optional Credentials for the Arts

Associate Director Owen Grover

Associate Director Owen Grover

Students who intend to major in Studio Art can submit artistic samples/portfolios through SlideRoom .  If not majoring in Studio Art, please highlight any art involvement (such as photography, painting, drawing, ceramics, digital media, and video) within the Activities or Additional Information sections of the Common Application or the QuestBridge Application. 

Students with a background in theater and/or music who plan to be involved in music and theater productions at Boston College are invited to showcase their talents by submitting artistic samples via SlideRoom,  regardless of their intended major .  If you do not intend to formally pursue these artistic talents at Boston College, but you would like to tell us about past experiences you've had in the arts, we encourage you to do so within the Activities or Additional Information sections of the Common Application or the QuestBridge Application.

All materials must be received via SlideRoom by November 1 for Early Decision I or QuestBridge National College Match candidates and by January 3 for Early Decision II and Regular Decision candidates.  Submissions received after these dates will not be reviewed.

English Proficiency

Associate Director Dave Weber

Associate Director Dave Weber

All international applicants must demonstrate English proficiency by submitting TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test examination results. A student is considered an international applicant if he/she is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident. Learn more about applying as an international student.

Supplementary English Proficiency Options

Students attending a national school in China are encouraged to schedule an interview with  InitialView . While not required, a video interview allows candidates the opportunity to demonstrate English proficiency and communication skills to the Admission Committee.

Applicants should submit InitialView results by November 15 for Early Decision I and January 15 for Early Decision II and Regular Decision.

Special Notice Regarding Application Deadlines

In recent years, a small number of Boston College applicants have faced challenges in meeting our application deadlines through no fault of their own. Natural disasters, political unrest, local school strikes and other unexpected events can add a level of complexity to the college application process. To the extent possible, Boston College is committed to working with students or those writing recommendations to extend deadlines, if necessary. Impacted students should contact us directly to discuss their circumstances.

For answers to our most frequent COVID-19 related questions, click here .

Early Decision I

Deadline: november 1.

Early Decision I is a binding admission program for students who view Boston College as their top choice.

Notification: By December 15

Early Decision applicants will be notified of their admission decision no later than December 15.

Early Decision II

Deadline: january 3.

Early Decision II is a binding admission program for students who view Boston College as their top choice.

Notification: By February 15

Early Decision applicants will be notified of their admission decision no later than February 15.

Regular Decision

Regular Decision is a non-binding admission program and the majority of applicants apply through Regular Decision.

Notification: By April 1

Regular Decision applicants will be notified of their admission decision no later than April 1.

Spring Freshmen

Human-Centered Engineering and Nursing freshman applicants are not eligible for spring enrollment.

Spring entry freshmen applicants will be notified of their admission decision no later than December 15.  

Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program

Each year, Boston College awards eighteen academically merit-based scholarships to incoming freshmen through the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program .  Both Early Decision and Regular Decision candidates are eligible for Presidential Scholarship consideration as long as they meet the November 1 priority scholarship deadline.  No additional application materials are required for this scholarship, but please note that only candidates for fall admission will be considered.

The Presidential Scholarship is a  four-year, full-tuition scholarship . If a student demonstrates need beyond tuition, as determined by Boston College's institutional analysis, this need would be met with additional scholarship funds.

Finalists for the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program will be notified of their status in mid-January. These students will be invited to Boston College at our expense for interviews and evaluation in mid-March. They will be notified of final decisions shortly thereafter. 

Boston College is proud to partner with the Stamps Scholars Program in funding three of the eighteen Presidential Scholarships each year.


Early Decision I and II

If Boston College is your unequivocal first choice, then we would urge you to consider applying through Early Decision. We expect that your academic credentials, extracurricular engagement, and personal qualities will fit the profile of currently enrolled Boston College students.  

Both Early Decision options are  binding . If admitted through Early Decision to Boston College, you must immediately withdraw applications to other institutions and enroll at Boston College.

Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

How do I check my application status?

We look forward to getting in touch with you through the email you provided on your Common Application or QuestBridge Application. After we receive your submission, we’ll email you login information for our Applicant Status Portal. You can check the status of your application there at any time. 

Please note, we do not begin downloading applications until mid-September. If you submit an early application, we will notify you once your application has been downloaded. Please add "[email protected]" to your list of approved email senders to ensure that you receive this email and other important application related communications.

How do I access my Applicant Status Portal?

Within 1-2 business days of receiving your Common Application or QuestBridge Application, we’ll email you login instructions to access the portal. Please save your credentialing email, which contains your unique portal access link, so you can monitor your status throughout the admission process. You will use the same credentials for both the application process and decision notification.

As a reminder, portal credentials will not be distributed until mid-September. So if you apply early, don’t worry! We’ll email you when we begin downloading applications. If you experience technical difficulties establishing your portal login credentials or you do not receive your emailed credentials after one week, please email us at [email protected]

What can I do in the portal?

As an applicant, you will use your Applicant Status Portal to monitor your application checklist and view your admission decision. You can also use the portal to:

Help! I can't find my login credentials. What should I do?

Within 1-2 business days of downloading your application, we’ll email your Applicant Status Portal login credentials. First, check your spam to make sure that your credential email isn’t there (Please add "[email protected]" as an approved address to your email server filtering system.)

If, after one week, you’ve checked your spam and you haven’t received your credentials email, please contact us at  [email protected] .

*Reminder: Applicant Status Portal login credentials will not be distributed until mid-September.

Can I submit checklist requirements through my portal?

No. All required materials (transcripts, recommendations, test scores, etc.) must be submitted electronically or via mail and must be official documents. You may use your portal to upload an optional resume, but this is not required for admission. We do not accept self-reported test scores.

How do I reset my portal password?

If you forgot your password and you set up Challege Questions , you can conveniently change your password by clicking "Forgot Password?" on the Boston College Applicant Status Portal login screen.

If you forgot your password and you did not set up Challenge Questions, please email [email protected] or call Undergraduate Admission at 617-552-3100 to have your credentialing email resent to you.

College Recommendation Letter Template – with Samples

Create a high quality document online now!

college application recommendation letter requirements

Updated February 17, 2023

A College Recommendation Letter is an endorsement of a college applicant that is written to bolster chances for admission. Recommendation letters are brief, formal statements that should highlight positive qualities and explain why the candidate will be successful in college studies.

Though friends or family might be able to sing the applicant’s praises, the best letters are usually written by teachers or employers.

What to Include

Student writing on chalkboard while teacher shows approval

This letter should provide key details about the relationship between recommender and applicant, and highlight the applicant’s positive attributes. It should include:

Though it is easy to write a laundry-list of positives, it is better to tell a story. Simply put, try to  show  rather than  tell  why the applicant will be a success in higher education.

Why Use a College Recommendation Letter?

Two college students walking on campus grounds

Many colleges require recommendation letters from applicants. But even if recommendations are not a strict necessity, they can help to build the case for admission.

These letters matter for what they say, but they also add some default value to an application just for being included. Even if the admissions committee does not carefully read recommendation letters, they are likely to note that they were included with the application, and that the applicant in the  kind of person  who can drum up recommendations – a positive quality all its own.

Who to Select

Soccer player scoring goal while coach claps and approves

A teacher, coach, or counselor are ideal choices and should be able to state key facts about the student including being able to describe their personality traits, work habits, and skills. Furthermore, the individual chosen by the student should be someone that they have had a relationship with outside the hours of school such as part of a volunteer program, sports team, or academic club.

An advantage to this is that Colleges and Universities understand that, on top of a full curriculum, having other activities take away from schoolwork. Therefore, if it comes down to an application with a generic reference versus another with an authentic reference, the latter will most likely get the nod.

How to Write (Format)

Woman writing a paper with pen alongside a laptop computer

A recommendation letter should fill an entire page (usually 400 – 500 words) and contain an introduction, two (2) body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The student should be described in a way that highlights both their academic skills and personal qualities. If the letter is written well, it will provide a complete picture of the candidate which goes beyond their grades and personal resume.


The introduction should be anywhere from 2 to 6 sentences that, more or less, describe the relationship with the student.

Depending on the person it can be as short as:

Example #1 Dear Admissions Committee, It is with great satisfaction that I recommend Peter to the University of Oak Lane. I had the joy of teaching and coaching Peter for the last 2 years as part of our school’s math team and I’ve watched him age into an intelligent, mature young man.

In this sample introduction the student is being recommended by the head of a noteworthy club (the “math team”) which is a stand-out recommendation.

Example #2 Dear Admissions Committee, It is my honor to recommend Jake to Faraway College as his high school basketball coach. Over the course of the last 4 years,  I have seen him develop into one of our school’s most impressive players and it was his skillset that helped guide our team to a winning season last year . Without his leadership skills and discipline, our team would not have enjoyed its success.

Here we have a coach that is introducing the student immediately as a leader and disciplined player. Two (2) key personality traits that a school looks for in a candidate.

Paragraph #1

The first body paragraph of the letter should provide a positive description of the student’s character, as well as list any achievements and awards that they may have earned. This paragraph will provide the main body of the letter and should therefore be at least 4-6 sentences in length.

Example #1 Laura has proven herself to be generous, enthusiastic, and helpful both in and out of class. Not only is she one of my top Physics students, but she has also been responsible for organizing student  activities, and speaking at assemblies as president of the Student Counci l. In this capacity, Laura has demonstrated that she is a confident, well-organized, diligent, and capable leader. She has participated as a tutor in the peer-tutoring program. I personally oversee this program and can attest not only to Laura’s ability to explain and instruct, but also to her patience and her deep commitment to helping others. I am also pleased to say that I was able to award Laura with the AAPT Outstanding Student Certificate for her exemplary performance during her two years as a student in my Physics classes.

In this example a physics teacher demonstrates the student’s positive character attributes by referencing the student’s personal achievements and commitments.

Example #2 When I was first introduced to Jordan, I was immediately impressed by his maturity and confidence. Little did I know that five years later I would be impressed further still by this young man’s incredible development. Jordan is known throughout the school for his athletic achievements in track and field, as well as for being a standout performer in the theatre program. As Jordan’s counselor I have been able to track his incredible personal and academic progress, and I can attest that with his winning smile and perseverance there is no mountain that he cannot climb. By staying after school for extra help in mathematics and science, Jordan has managed to improve his academic performance to such a degree that he has been included on the school Honor Roll for two years running.

This sample has a school counselor drawing upon their lengthy relationship with the student to describe their personal impression of the student’s character, highlighting the student’s work ethic and exemplary performance in multiple fields.

Paragraph #2

The second body paragraph is going to expand upon the first one, emphasizing the student’s participation in school and in school groups, citing specific examples of their positive character traits. Try to connect the student’s various interests and aptitudes to paint a coherent and memorable portrait. This paragraph can run from 3-6 sentences, depending on how many examples are given.

Example #1 Cassandra’s personal character is equally as impressive as her academic achievements. As a public speaker she is able to hold the attention of an entire assembly, and when speaking one-on-one she demonstrates empathetic listening skills, as well as a powerful intellect. Cassandra cares about those around her and is always ready to lend a helping hand or word of encouragement. In her third year, she started a sustainability program along with her peers which now performs an annual school waste audit and gives presentations on waste reduction and practices. With her unwavering enthusiasm and sense of humor, having Cassandra in a classroom is a joy for her teachers and fellow students alike.

The above sample uses descriptive language and specific examples to highlight the student’s communication skills, personal interests, and positive personality traits.

Example #2 As captain of the girls basketball team, Melinda has participated in two state-wide championships and led our school to a victory in a district tournament. This year, she has served as the editor of this year’s school yearbook, proving her ability to delegate work to her assistant editors and organize an efficient workflow. Melinda is not only a born leader and a fastidious worker, she is a kind-hearted and sympathetic individual who strives to make a positive impact on the world around her.

This example uses less descriptive language, instead relying more upon examples that pertain to the student’s extracurricular activities, demonstrating their participation, leadership skills, and sense of responsibility.

The conclusion paragraph can be anywhere from 2-4 sentences long and its purpose is twofold: to summarize the author’s personal recommendation, and to provide a contact method for further questions.

Example #1 Peter’s ability to perform competitively under pressure will surely serve him well in a college setting. He is an organized, intelligent, and capable young man who would be an excellent addition to your school. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at (555) 414-4141 or [email protected] Sincerely, Jan Travis Biology Teacher Far Away High School

The above sample has a brief summary of the student’s of positive attributes, as well as two contact methods contained in the paragraph body.

Example #2 In conclusion, Clayton has my respect and highest recommendation as an exemplary student. He has demonstrated excellence in all that he puts his mind to, whether working on a group project, or designing a technical experiment. Clayton’s keen interest in understanding how things work and natural aptitude for sciences lead me to believe that he will be a valuable addition to your classrooms. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at the email address provided below if you have any questions. Sincerely, Mr. John Lewis Physics Teacher West Island High School

In this concluding paragraph, the summary is geared specifically towards the college program which the student is applying for. By being specific, the author clearly demonstrates why the student is a suitable applicant for a particular college or university.

Dear Admissions Committee, I am pleased to be writing this letter of recommendation on behalf of Karen Leyland, a most promising student and wonderful individual. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Math to Karen during her junior and senior years here at Kirby Prep School. If it were appropriate for teachers to pick favorites, Karen would definitely be one of my top choices. She has a winning attitude full of drive and perseverance that goes unparalleled. She is always attentive in class and has a knack for engaging the whole class in participation, but the attribute that admire the most about Karen is her unwavering kindness. Karen has been at the top of her class in her final year of high school and was always amongst the top 5 in previous years. Her ability to understand complex concepts and solve problems quicker than most people is the main reason why she qualified for the National Merit Scholarship Program . This accomplishment was earned by giving her undivided attention in class and doing extra work outside of the classroom. She’s always able to manage her time superbly and willing to lend a hand to other students struggling with their work. While some are destined to develop leadership skills, Karen seems to possess the intrinsic qualities of a born leader  and she’s able to accomplish this without an air of arrogance or superiority towards her peers. Math is Karen’s main academic focus, but she is also thrives in the music department. She plays saxophone in the jazz band and has a deep understanding of the connections between music and mathematics. I have heard her play on multiple occasions and it’s obvious she has an amazing mind for music comprehension and composition. I’m also fortunate enough to play music with Karen when we both can spare the time and my favorite part about it is the change in teacher-student dynamic wherein I get to play the role of the student again. It’s refreshing and confirms my belief that teachers learn just as much from their students as students do from teachers. Any college would be thrilled to accept Karen as she is an outstanding student with so much to offer. Our school was very lucky to have her as a student and I’m sure your faculty will feel the same should she be accepted. Karen embraces constructive criticism and strives to improve in every aspect of her education and beyond. She deserves all the good things that will inevitably come her way in her post-secondary years. I would be glad to answer any further questions you have regarding Karen or Kirby Prep School. Sincerely, Erik Perkins Math Teacher Georgiana Bruce Kirby Prep School
Dear Admissions Committee, It is without hesitation that I write to you in regards to Ted’s acceptance into your prestigious institution. I am a counselor at Crescent Valley High School and have had the pleasure of working with Ted throughout his high school career. I’ve watched him develop into a well-rounded and mature young man, who will accomplish many great things in his lifetime. He is a talented and hard-working individual who finds joy in helping others. Ted has amazing people skills and can make anyone feel comfortable around him. In Ted’s first year of high school, he came to me in need of some guidance. He had gone through some heavy family problems and it was causing his school work to suffer. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help Ted through these rough times. He is a compassionate, caring, and self-efacing person, with an unshakable positive outlook on life. Once he had worked out his own issues, all he wanted to do was take his experiences and help other students with similar problems. He began volunteering at North View Elementary School, talking with kids and even tutoring in multiple subjects. I’ve never come across anyone who wasn’t immediately enamored by Ted’s amicable demeanor. Throughout his high school career, Ted has excelled in every field of his education and also taken on multiple extra curricular activities. In his senior year, Ted was president of the Student Council, captain of the basketball team, and an honor student. He has become proficient at juggling multiple work loads. He also continued his counseling at the elementary school throughout these years. Even still, he wanted to make a bigger difference. He decided to present his outlook on life by holding a seminar in the gymnasium. Most of the school attended to listen to Ted as he spoke eloquently on overcoming your fears and insecurities and transforming them into positive thinking. It was a captivating 20 minute speech that led to an uproarious standing ovation. Someone managed to film the presentation and the video has thousands of views on YouTube. I am very pleased that Ted approached me to write this letter as I am so impressed by his achievements and his enormous potential. He is a charming young man who is able to see the good in everyone. If Ted is accepted into your Counseling Psychology Program, there’s no doubt in my mind he will excel in this field and go on to change many lives for the better. The confidence and charisma that he has developed over his high school career is phenomenal and I look forward to seeing that continue in college. Please contact me if you wish to further discuss Ted’s acceptance into your college. Regards, William Mackenzie Guidance Counselor Crescent Valley High School
September 1, 2017 Dear Admissions Committee, I am submitting this letter in support of Jim’s application for admission to the Class of 2022 at Michigan State University. I have been Jim’s supervisor at Bellevue Coffee since he was hired in April 2014. In this time, he has consistently shown himself to be a steadfast, professional, and pleasant employee. Though this is his first job, he has demonstrated professional instincts and a bulletproof work ethic since day one. A short anecdote to illustrate Jim’s character: Last Sunday, our early shift barista called out sick. While I, as store manager, would normally cover such an expected absence, I was otherwise occupied with a family medical matter. I reached out to Jim, and he enthusiastically volunteered to take this early shift, even though it meant a 16-hour day for him. Though Jim routinely works 20 hours per week, I understand that he has only improved his grades since starting this job. Being a first-hand witness to his quick-thinking, judgement, and ethic in the workplace, it is hardly surprising to hear that he again made the dean’s list last spring. I have no doubt that Jim will be a successful member of the class of 2022 and offer my wholehearted endorsement of him. Sincerely, Ryan Shannon

college application recommendation letter requirements

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Freshman Requirements

In addition to your UC application, we take both your academic record and your personal experiences into consideration during the review process . At UCLA, we seek students who have excelled academically and gained valuable perspective from the personal experiences that have helped shape their lives.

Read on to find out more.

The Criteria We Consider

When reviewing an application, we implement a holistic review process, which includes looking at some of the following criteria:

Academic Preparation

You must complete 15 A-G courses with at least 11 courses finished prior to the beginning of your last year of high school. To be competitive in the UCLA admission process, applicants should present an academic profile much stronger than any minimum UC admission requirements.  See below for a listing of the A-G requirements:

Keep in mind that there is no single academic path we expect all students to follow. However, competitive applicants earn high marks in the most rigorous curriculum available to them.   Each application for admission is reviewed within the context of courses available to that student. If a particular required subject is not available, we’ll consider your application without it.

Standardized Testing (SAT/ACT)

UCLA will not consider SAT or ACT scores for admission or scholarship purposes.

If you choose to submit test scores as part of your application, they may be used as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.

Details regarding UC’s testing policy are provided on the UC admission website.

UCLA’s ACT number: 0448 UCLA’s College Board (SAT) number: 4837

Personal Insight Questions

These personal questions are just that — personal. This is your chance to augment the information elsewhere in your application and give us more insight into you during the review process.  Our hope is to hear your true, authentic voice in your responses.   As a freshman applicant, you may respond to four of eight questions. Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words. Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you. You should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Because we receive more applicants than we have room to accept, admitted students usually have academic achievements far higher than the minimum requirements. So, to be “competitive” is to be among the strongest achieving students to apply.

We look for students who take advantage of the academic opportunities available to them. If you have advanced courses, we encourage you to take advantage of them. The University of California adds extra weight to grades received in UC-certified honors, AP, IB and transferable college courses.

We do not require or accept letters of recommendation in our process and we do not collect transcripts at the point of application . However, once admitted, students are required to submit official transcripts f rom any high school or college they have attended . Some professional schools may request a letter of recommendation as part of their supplemental application process.

We do not offer admission interviews. Applicants are considered for admission based upon the information they submit in the UC application . However, some majors in our  specialty schools require a supplemental application as part of their admission process. Supplemental applications may involve an audition, portfolio submission and/or letters of recommendation. Find out more from the supplemental applications page.

Supplemental Applications

Of course, a strong academic performance combined with sustained, meaningful involvement in extracurricular activities is the ideal. But if it comes down to a choice between excelling in your coursework or your extracurricular activities, choose your academics.

college application recommendation letter requirements

Application Checklist

Below you'll find the list of components that comprise the Princeton first-year application. In an effort to simplify all that is required of you, we frame the process in three action steps: 1) Submit, 2) Request and 3) Report.

More information about optional components of the application is available at the base of the page. 

First-Year Application Checklist

A Completed Application. You must submit your application online through the Common Application . Princeton's CEEB Code: 2672

Princeton's Supplement. In addition to the application provided by the Common Application, all applicants must submit the Princeton Supplement . You should submit the Princeton Supplement online through the Common Application website. 

Application Fee or Fee Waiver. You may submit a fee waiver one of two ways: 1) Select the fee waiver option on the Common Application. Your school counselor must approve your fee waiver request online or submit your fee waiver form by mail or fax. 2) Select one of the following fee waiver options on the Princeton Supplement: Princeton-specific,  ACT ,  College Board  or  NACAC . All low-income students are eligible for the Princeton-specific fee waiver. In addition, all applicants who are serving or have served in the U.S. military are eligible for the Princeton-specific fee waiver. If you use the Princeton-specific fee waiver, you do not need to get approval from your college counselor or academic adviser.

Transcript. An official transcript must be sent by a school counselor or school official.

Princeton will not require submission of standardized testing for the 2022-23 application cycle (SAT or ACT). 

Optional Application Components  

Arts Supplement, if applicable.  If you've excelled in  architecture, creative writing, dance, music, music theater, theater  or  visual arts , and would like us to consider your talent, you are welcome to submit an  optional Arts Supplement . Early action applicants must submit digital arts materials by Nov. 7 and regular decision applicants by Jan. 9. On the Common or QuestBridge Application, please indicate your intention to submit an Arts Supplement in Princeton’s member questions. You will be able to submit an Arts Supplement through your Princeton Applicant Status Portal. Please keep in mind that you need to submit your application to Princeton University before you can submit your Arts Supplement. Given the timeline, students who are participating in the  QuestBridge National College Match  will be unable to submit an Arts Supplement.

Application Confirmation

You may log in to Princeton's Applicant Portal  to verify whether we have received all your required application materials. You will receive a confirmation notice when we have received your application. The confirmation notice will arrive approximately 24-48 hours after you submit your admission application. If your application is incomplete, we will let you know which pieces are missing. Beginning in mid-October, you also may track the completeness of your application online through the Applicant Portal. Please note: You cannot apply for financial aid until you apply for admission. Please review our application dates and deadlines .

If a student has submitted an application on three separate occasions, the Office of Admission generally will not review subsequent applications. In these instances, if an application fee was submitted, it will be returned.

The University's admission process involves a holistic review of each applicant's entire file. No particular factor is assigned a fixed weight; rather, the process involves a highly individualized assessment of the applicant's talents, achievements and his or her potential to contribute to learning at Princeton. Please see the Joint Statement on Common Ivy Group Admission Procedures for more information about admission policies.

Princeton Supplement

Review the additional Princeton-specific questions of our application.

Graded Written Paper

The graded written paper will help the Office of Admission assess the student’s written expression in an academic setting.

Optional Arts Supplement

The optional Arts Supplement is for students who have devoted a significant amount of time and energy to one or more art forms and who wish to have their work considered as part of their application.

Are minimum grade-point averages, class ranks, or test scores required for admission?

No. We consider all of these measures, but only within the context of each applicant’s school and situation. In general, our most promising candidates tend to earn high grades and have comparatively high scores on standardized tests. These criteria, while important, do not by themselves provide a complete picture of each student’s academic accomplishment or potential. We evaluate all aspects of a student’s academic preparation.

Are on-campus interviews offered?

No. We offer interviews off-campus by the Princeton Schools Committee. If there are enough volunteers in your area, you will be contacted by an interviewer after you submit your application. If you do choose to visit campus, you will have the opportunity to attend an admission information session, a campus tour or an engineering school tour.

Do I need to have an interview as part of the admission process?

We try to offer each applicant the opportunity to have a conversation with an alumnus/a volunteer. This is a chance for you to learn more about the Princeton experience and for us to learn more about you. Interviews take place after the Admission Office has received your application. You may choose to opt out of the interview in the Princeton Supplement, and this choice will not put you at any disadvantage in the admission process. If you do not opt out, you may receive an email inviting you to interview with a member of our Princeton Schools Committee in your area (if available). The alumni interviewer will contact you to arrange a convenient meeting time. Alumni interviews for the 2022-23 application cycle may be in person or virtual depending on the availability of the alumni. The Admission Office has no preference between these two options. We include the interviewer’s comments in our review of your application. Interviews aren't required as part of the admission process, but we encourage candidates to accept the invitation. Don't be concerned if interviews are not available; we will give your application full consideration without an interview. Given the timeline, we will not be able to offer an interview to students who are participating in the QuestBridge National College Match as well as the Transfer Admission Program.

Does Princeton consider applicants who have been home-schooled?

Yes. We receive and consider applications from home-schooled students every year.  In fact, the valedictorian of the Princeton Class of ’02 was home-schooled before entering Princeton.

How do I request a fee waiver?

You may request a fee waiver one of two ways:  1) Select the fee waiver option on the Common Application. Your college or school counselor must approve your fee waiver request online or submit your fee waiver form by mail or fax.  2) Select one of the following fee waiver options on the Princeton Supplement: Princeton-specific, ACT, College Board or NACAC. All lower-income students are eligible for the Princeton-specific fee waiver. Students named QuestBridge Finalists should select the QuestBridge fee waiver. If you use the Princeton-specific fee waiver, you do not need to get approval from your college counselor.

Is it possible to transfer to Princeton from another college or university?

Yes. Read more information about our transfer admission process .

May I appeal my admission decision or ask to have the decision explained?

We cannot reconsider applications or offer individual explanations for our decisions. Most of our applicants are well qualified for Princeton. Since the admission staff must select a first-year class from an abundance of highly able and accomplished candidates, and since all applicants are compared to the entire applicant pool, it is extremely difficult to explain why any one student is refused.

May students who are admitted defer enrollment to another year?

Yes. Students who wish to take a year off from their studies may request to defer their enrollment for one year (and sometimes for an additional year). If you pursue this, you may not enroll full time in a degree program at another institution during the deferral period. In recent years, the activities of students taking a year off have included work, community service, travel, military service, arts training and religious studies. We recommend students request a deferral only after they decide to matriculate and before May 15. Deferral requests are not guaranteed and must be approved by the Office of Admission.

My grandparent attended Princeton. Does that mean I am a “legacy” applicant?

Though you are welcome to indicate on your application if another relative attended Princeton, you are considered a “legacy” applicant only if your mother, father, stepmother or stepfather attended Princeton.  

What is the wait list?

Since we don't know until after May 1 how many students will accept our offer of admission, we invite a number of our applicants to stay on our wait list in the event we have remaining spaces in the first-year class. The list is unranked; if spaces become available, we will review the entire group of candidates on the wait list.

What letters of recommendations are required?

We require two academic teacher recommendations, and request, but do not require, a letter from your school counselor, college adviser or another school official to accompany the School Report.

When are applications due?

Jan. 1 is our submission deadline for regular decision. Nov. 1 is our submission deadline for restricted early action.  View all important application dates and deadlines.

Who is eligible for an application fee waiver?

You may request a fee waiver if you are from a lower-income background, or if the application fee is a hardship for your family, and you are applying for financial aid. Please note that applying for a fee waiver will not disadvantage your application in any way. You may learn more about fee waivers on our Application Checklist.

Will my choice in course of study affect my chance for admission?

On the application we ask you to indicate the degree program (A.B., B.S.E. or undecided) and the departments that most interest you. These choices don't affect your chances for admission, nor do they commit you to a particular course of study. We look closely at the math and science background of students interested in the B.S.E. program, and we consider every applicant’s abilities across the academic subjects. Princeton engineering students choose a field of concentration (major) after one year and liberal-arts students after two years. More than 70 percent of our undergraduates are majoring in fields different from those they indicated when they applied.

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What Do I Need to Apply to Online College?

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The advent of online learning has revolutionized the college experience. Students can choose to complete their entire degree online , beginning with the application process . Many colleges have improved upon the traditional application process to offer faster, more convenient application options.

Accredited schools typically require similar application materials for online and in-person undergraduate programs, including official transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and an application fee. Graduate program applications often include additional prerequisites. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

Many students wonder, "what do I need to apply to an online college?" Find out below.

College Application Materials for Online College

Exploring how to apply to online college starts with gathering application materials. Students should begin the collection phase of the process as early as possible to save time and reduce stress when submission time rolls around.

The following materials are commonly required for a standard college application. Students who apply online can often upload and submit supporting documents electronically.

Download BestColleges' CV Template

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts are commonly requested by college admissions administrators. Official transcripts are original, watermarked documents. They are mailed directly from one school to another in a sealed, signature-verified envelope.

In contrast, unofficial transcripts are scanned for email delivery, or copied from the original documents. Students can request transcripts from their school's registrar by completing a form online and paying a processing fee.

Test Scores

Standardized test scores are another common requirement for online college applicants. Schools often require aspiring undergraduates to submit scores from tests like the SAT or ACT , while graduate programs may require GMAT or GRE scores. Individual schools decide whether to uphold a strict policy when it comes to minimum standardized test scores.

Some schools waive this requirement for students who exceed a minimum GPA or possess abundant work experience. Others may accept AP scores or prerequisites in lieu of standardized test scores. Applicants who have not taken any of the commonly required standardized tests may pursue schools with a " test-optional " or "test-flexible" admissions policy. A growing number of schools are moving away from test score requirements.

Many online colleges also require English language proficiency tests, such as the TOEFL , to test the language skills of international applicants.

Personal Statement

Personal statements can be used to demonstrate a student's ambitions for a college program and showcase their writing skills. Not all online programs have this application requirement.

Aspiring undergraduates may be asked to respond to a prompt that mimics a college-level writing assignment. Graduate applications tend to request broader statements, exploring a student's career and/or independent study goals. Successful college essays may discuss:

Summary of Extracurricular Activities

While extracurricular activities can enhance a college application, some colleges may not value these activities as highly as others. Schools may also use extracurriculars to try and better understand how an online student connects to their community and peers. Keep in mind that it's typically better to pursue quality extracurriculars that you're passionate about, as opposed to focusing on quantity. Common extracurriculars for high school students and older learners include:

List of Academic Honors and Achievements

Students should be sure to highlight their academic honors and achievements on their online college application. Common examples of appropriate accolades include membership in the National Honor Society, National Merit Scholars, and AP Scholars.

Many undergraduate applicants choose to include their class rank and/or honor roll status. Applicants may also be asked to write and submit a resume , which can outline both professional and academic achievements. This requirement may be more common among graduate-level options and programs targeting older learners.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation can help provide college administrators with additional insight about an applicant's character and potential. Some online programs do not require letters of recommendation . But if they do, letters from a student's mentors, teachers, or counselors can help round out a student's application by highlighting their achievements and successes.

Students may also ask a trusted employer, coach, or religious leader for a recommendation. Try and give letter-writers several weeks to complete the request.

How Do I Apply to Online College?

An online college typically conducts its application process through an online portal. Although some online colleges may use centralized application systems , like the Common App , other online schools require students to submit individual applications to their specific institution.

Whether applying to online schools individually or through a centralized platform, experts advise students to apply to 4-12 schools . This strikes a balance between having a diverse slate of options and feeling overwhelmed.

Students should be mindful that schools may have different admissions policies (open, standard, early decision, or rolling admissions) and decide which option aligns with their needs. They can also consider other factors, including flexibility, residency requirements, and learning style when choosing an online program . In many cases, the online application process expedites the timeline for enrollment decisions.

Application Timeline

Applying to college requires advanced planning. High school students who intended to submit regular applications should begin working on college applications at the start of their senior year, at the latest. They should start by mid-to-late junior year if they plan to submit an early decision application.

Students interested in a school or program that has an open admissions or rolling admissions policy can often apply at any time throughout the year. However, returning students may need to apply by a school's set priority deadline. Many schools with these flexible admissions timelines return an offer of enrollment or decline admission in 2-8 weeks.

Application Fees

While individual costs vary, online colleges typically charge an application fee of $40-$60. This fee may vary based on a variety of factors, including a school's reputation and level of competitiveness. For example, some Ivy League schools may charge around $100 to apply. Scholarships do not typically cover application fees, although students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for fee waivers.

Do's and Don'ts of Applying to Online Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions About Applying to Online College

Do I need to complete standardized tests to apply to an online college?

Not necessarily — many schools have a test-optional policy. Additionally, although undergraduate programs commonly require applicants to submit standardized test results like the SAT or ACT for admission, students may qualify to waive this requirement. For example, applicants may be exempt if they meet minimum GPA or AP course requirements.

Similarly, some graduate programs waive GMAT or GRE test requirements for applicants with extensive professional or high-level academic experience. Other schools may enact a universal test-optional or test-flexible policy for all applicants and programs.

How much does it cost to apply to online college?

While costs vary by school and program, most online colleges charge an application fee of roughly $50. Online community colleges and vocational schools tend to charge less than high-profile universities. Additional charges may also apply, such as requesting and mailing official transcripts and taking the SAT or ACT.

Is online college worth it?

Online college can offer a variety of conveniences over a traditional program, making an online degree a worthwhile investment for many students. Students who enroll in an online program can often choose from full-time or part-time study options, attend 100% online or hybrid classes, and view live or pre-recorded course content.

Learners can study from anywhere with an internet connection. They may also be able to more easily maintain their work and family obligations while earning an online degree. Beyond exceptional flexibility, many online colleges also offer greater affordability. For example, out-of-state learners who take their courses online may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

How long does it take to apply to online college?

Students can save time and money by applying through a centralized platform like Common App . If an online school does not offer a centralized application option, most applications take roughly 30 minutes to complete once a student has written their personal statement and gathered the necessary application materials.

I applied to an online college. When will I hear back?

The turnaround time for online college applications varies, though many schools return a decision in 2-8 weeks. The speed of the admissions process depends on what type of enrollment a student is seeking and the school's policies.

Most students applying through the standard admissions process who submit their application by the deadline (usually January at the latest) hear back in a couple of months (by the end of March or early April).

Schools with open or rolling admissions policies tend to return an enrollment decision in less time — sometimes as early as two weeks after processing a student's application.

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college application recommendation letter requirements

College Recommendation Letters: Everything You Need to Know

Padya Paramita

April 19, 2021

college application recommendation letter requirements

Going through the list of requirements for the admissions cycle, you might be stressed by the college recommendation letters component. Which teachers should you ask? What’s the best way to ask them? What do strong letters even look like? Will the teachers you ask write great ones on your behalf? Since recommendation letters are the one component of your application you don’t write, they show a different perspective and provide admissions officers a more objective viewpoint regarding what you’re like to have in the classroom.

One of the most important components of the college recommendation letters process is finding the best people to ask who can elaborately speak about your achievements. To guide you through this application component, I’ve outlined exactly what letters of recommendation are, who to ask, how to go about asking them, and what you’re looking for in an ideal recommendation letter.

Letters of Recommendation: The Basics 

As the name suggests, a college recommendation letter is a note from someone who knows you well in an academic or professional setting, highlighting your best qualities and why they recommend you for a position or institution you’re applying for. For most cases, colleges require letters of recommendation from two teachers, one from your guidance counselor, and provide the option of one additional recommendation that could come from a coach or club advisor. The requirements vary from school to school - some schools ask for no additional letters, while others, such as Dartmouth and Davidson, ask for a peer recommendation . 

Sometimes a college might ask for an additional letter of recommendation in case of waitlists, deferrals, or for specific cases. For example, if you’re an athlete, schools often like to see recommendations from your coaches as well as your teacher. Or, if you had a strong working relationship with your supervisor from an internship or volunteer experience, you might want to add their voice through an additional letter. If you’re waitlisted at a school, a recommendation from another teacher (one who hasn’t already written your initial letters) reaffirming that you’re indeed an asset to the classroom and school community can help support your case. 

Follow the instructions from each school to submit the required or recommended number of letters. Go with the guidelines and don’t provide more letters than allowed – admissions officers already have plenty of reading to do! Note if the institution specifies particulars in the who should write the letter or what the letter should include. Admissions offices always appreciate applicants who know how to follow directions. 

Long story short, your college recommendation letters should be written by teachers who know you the best. Here are some suggestions on teachers you could ask:

Don’t pick a teacher who is famous or well-connected if they don’t know you as well as others who would do a better job of praising you in detail. The recognition 1) most likely won’t benefit you at all and 2) isn’t worth a subpar reference. Recommendation letters might just act as the affirmation a school needs to know you’d be a good fit. 

How to Ask 

Asking for college recommendation letters can be intimidating, no matter how strong your relationship with the teacher is. After all, you’re essentially asking them to endorse you and take time out of their busy lives for your applications. 

When it comes to talking to your recommenders, it’s extra crucial to ask them early. Teachers have schedules as hectic as students do and if you’re not one of the firsts to take the plunge, they might have already committed to many recommendations. Contact them at least three or four months in advance to discuss the letters. You should ask your letter writers ideally before the end of junior year so that they can write their letters over the summer when they have a lighter workload.

Don’t just write them an email or mention that you’d like a letter from them when passing them in the hallway. Do write an email asking if you could meet with them to discuss your college admissions process and the possibility of a letter of recommendation. Tell them how your application process is going - let them know about the colleges that you’ve decided to apply to and what major you hope to pursue. 

When the time comes to get to the reason for your meeting, don’t just demand a letter from them - frame your request as a question. You can’t just assume they’ll say yes! If they agree, sincerely thank them for their time. 

Write a cover letter once your teachers say yes, thanking them for their time and outlining what you hope they can highlight in their letters. Mention specific academic achievements, personality traits, and anecdotes that capture your work ethic or leadership skills. Don’t worry - you aren’t being too pushy by writing this letter. Teachers are almost always impressed by the initiative and find that it’s a helpful guide in their letter-writing process. Of course, let them know when they should submit the letters by, and send them a gentle reminder as the deadline draws closer. 

What Letters of Recommendation Should Include

Letters of recommendation should provide admissions officers with new information that complements the other components of your application profile. Any glowing letters of recommendation should include the following:

For example: I first met Jack when he started high school three years ago. Since then, he’s taken three years of English classes with me. I have also served as a mentor for the community service project that he led with students…

For example: Jack is the most dedicated student I’ve ever had. His work has always stood out to me more than that of his peers...

For example: I have seen a thorough demonstration of Jack’s ability to work well with his peers. First, when he led the project on…

A glowing recommendation is one that spares no details of your strengths and speaks to your abilities with confidence and high approval. So it’s all the more important that you choose someone who doesn’t have to exaggerate or make up stories (should never be done!) to boast about your best qualities. You should also feel comfortable talking to the person candidly about the impression you want their letter to leave on college admissions officers. 

As you can see, who you choose to write your college recommendation letters is closely connected with their ability to write an effective letter on your behalf. An expansive letter full of praise should flow if you choose recommenders who are very familiar with your personality and skills. If they have seen your work through different academic and extracurricular capacities, they won’t be grasping for straws on what to write. Admissions officers can tell from vivid details that this is a teacher who’s seen your growth closely and has many stories to tell about your qualifications as an applicant. 

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Letters of Recommendation

college application recommendation letter requirements

Colleges ask for all different numbers of recommendation letters. Each college sets its own policy, so it's always a good idea to double check each school on your list to make sure you understand exactly what it wants.

Typically, colleges want you to send a recommendation letter from your counselor. Additionally, they may ask for one, two, or, in rare cases, three letters from your teachers. This guide will go over the different guidelines so you know how many recommendations to collect when applying to colleges. First, let's go over the different options.

How Many Recommendation Letters Do Schools Require?

You might need anywhere from zero to four letters of recommendations . As mentioned above, the majority of colleges want to see at least an evaluation from your school counselor.

On top of this, many colleges, especially those selecting on the basis of academic merit, seek one or two teacher recommendations. Few colleges want to see three; usually, you'll only need three recs if you're applying to military school.

To find information on your specific colleges of interest, you can look on their admissions websites. If you're using the Common Application , then your app should also be customized to each school and its expectations.

While this guide doesn't cover every single college in the US (there are thousands!), it will go over some popular schools and their recommendation letter requirements. Let's start with schools that have minimum requirements and work our way up to the schools with the most.

college application recommendation letter requirements

You're off the hook for recommendation letters at these schools.

Popular Schools with No Recommendation Requirement

There are some schools, including competitive ones, that don't require any recommendation letters at all. Some of these may have a general "no rec letter" policy, but still advise you to check with your particular department or program. Others may ask you to send a recommendation letter later in the year.

Some of you reading this might breathe a sigh of relief, while others may want to send a rec letter and be disappointed. If you fall into the latter group, should you send your letter(s) anyway?

Again, it's always a good idea to check your school's website for information or call its admissions office directly for its advice. Some schools will read your letters if you want to send them, while others are rather adamant about not sending any.

Here are a few schools that, generally speaking, don't require recommendation letters:

Now for the schools that require one letter of recommendation - but only from your counselor.

If you're applying to any of the schools below, then a trip to your guidance department is in order.

Popular Schools that Require One Counselor Recommendation and No Teacher Recommendations

These schools just want to see an evaluation from your school counselor. As you can see, most of these schools are open to you sending a teacher evaluation if you think it will be helpful to your application.

If you do decide to send a teacher rec when it's not required, make sure it's a strong, substantial letter that you feel will truly help your candidacy. A common requirement of many four year colleges is one counselor recommendation and one teacher recommendation.

college application recommendation letter requirements

These next schools want you to send two letters of recommendation, as indicated by the diesmbodied floating hand.

Popular Schools that Require One Counselor and One Teacher Recommendation

These schools want to see one letter each from your school counselor and a teacher.

More selective colleges tend to require a counselor letter of rec and two teacher letters of recommendation. Check out of some popular schools with this requirement below.

college application recommendation letter requirements

If you're applying to any of the schools below, hopefully you have three smiling educators ready to write amazing things about you!

Popular Schools that Require One Counselor and Two Teacher Recommendations

Since these schools are particularly selective for academic ability, it makes sense that they want to hear about you and your work as a student from two different teachers.

*Dartmouth and Davidson additionally require a peer recommendation with the two teacher recommendations. **Wheaton requires one teacher rec and one pastoral rec

Up until this point, you either had no choice in your recommender (as with your counselor) or could just choose one teacher. But as for the schools that require two letters, do they have any requirements about who exactly you ask to recommend you?

Guidelines for Your Two Teacher Recommendations

In terms of who you ask, colleges typically ask you to provide a range of perspectives , like one letter from a science or math teacher and one from a humanities or social studies teacher (this includes technical schools like MIT and CalTech). The other common policy is that the school leaves the choice up to you. In pretty much any case, you should ask two teachers from core courses.

If you're applying to an art or performance school, like Juilliard or the New England Conservatory of Music, then one of your letters should be an artistic recommendation from a private studio teacher, conductor, coach, or artistic mentor. As you saw above, a select few schools, like Dartmouth, Davidson, and Wheaton, get specific about additional peer or pastoral recommendations, but these are definitely exceptions.

Now that you have a sense of the colleges that want two teacher recommendations, take a look at the few that want three (FYI, they're all military schools).

Military Schools that Require One Counselor and Three Teacher Recommendations

These schools also require a nomination from a Congressperson, which essentially counts as another recommendation, bringing the number required up to five!

Above, we briefly touched on whether or not you should send a letter even if your school doesn't require it. On a similar note, should you ever send an extra letter?

college application recommendation letter requirements

Extra! Extra! Read all about me!

Can You Send Extra Recommendation Letters?

Logistically, you should be able to send an extra recommendation letter via mail or assigning an additional recommender on your school application or Common Application. Many schools allow this option, but you should be cautious and make sure you understand your school's opinion about sending extra material.

Each school has its own stance on supplemental letters. If your school allows it, you want to make sure an extra letter adds something substantial to your application and comes from an authoritative source, like a community supervisor or spiritual leader with whom you've worked closely. Another circumstance in which an extra letter could be a good idea is if you attend a huge high school and haven't gotten to know your teachers or counselor very well.

Again, make sure to learn about your school's policy. You don't want to play into the old admissions saying, " The thicker the file, the thicker the kid. " Admissions officers usually don't look fondly on too much extra material. Rather than helping your application, excessive supplemental could just end up raising red flags about the strength of your candidacy.

While researching your colleges' requirements is a critical first step in planning your recommendation letters, there are several other factors that require your attention. Read on for more on gathering recommendation letters, along with the resources that can help you through the process.

college application recommendation letter requirements

Tell me more.

What Else Do You Need to Know About Recommendation Letters?

Before you invite your recommenders to submit their letters online, you should be thoughtful about who you ask and how you make your requests . Make sure to ask teachers of core subjects who know you well and give them all the necessary information at least a month in advance, if not in the spring of junior year.

To get your best letter , part of this information should be a detailed resume and "brag sheet." Plus you can make appointments with your teachers and counselor to talk about your goals and what you'd like them to include in your letter.

Finally, make sure you understand your rights surrounding your rec letters and how to approach the FERPA question on your application. Then you can invite your recommenders and know that you did everything you could to get the best letters for your college application. The rest is up to them, except for that final step in the process - sending thank you cards for all their help!

What's Next?

Now that you have access to guides on everything you need to know about rec letters, check out this complete guide that takes you through the steps of applying to college . This guide includes everything you need to know about the application process.

If you're just starting to research colleges , check out this article on how to choose a college and all the questions to ask yourself when planning for your future!

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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters are a critical element of every application. They validate the claims you've made as an applicant, providing specific examples and details of your academic accomplishments, personal endeavors, and character. Selection committees rely on them to impartially evaluate your performance and potential to be successful in the opportunity you are pursuing. Good letter-writers are those who know you well enough to provide these assessments with enthusiasm and authenticity.

Academic letters are typically written by faculty, lecturers, or faculty research advisors who have overseen your work in courses, research settings, or other academic contexts. These letters generally address how you performed, your potential for future success in the field, and any other attributes that make you qualified for the particular award. Post-doctoral associates/fellows and graduate students may also have insight into your performance if they've worked with you in a course or project. However, depending on the fellowship or research opportunity, they do not usually make suitable academic letter-writers. It is important that you check the criteria of the award and/or check-in with administrators who manage the award to see whether letters from non-faculty members would be appropriate for that opportunity.

Some students, especially those in their early college years, have not yet had the opportunity to directly interact with faculty – perhaps you have had more direct interaction with Teaching Fellows ("TFs"). In these cases, you might consider asking the faculty course leader or head of a research group to work together with your TF to generate a co-signed letter. Keep in mind, though, that coordinating co-signed letters takes more time than usual, so plan ahead. Peers (other college students or recent alumni in student organizations), on the other hand,  are not suitable letter writers. If you're applying for a non-academic opportunity, or one that is specifically interested in learning about the applicant's personal attributes (character, leadership potential, commitment to service, etc.), then you might consider asking for a letter of recommendation from a College staff member or organization supervisor, coach, faculty who may be familiar with your work outside of the classroom, work supervisor, or Resident Dean or other House staff.

Letters from high school teachers or your high school years: Soliciting letters from high school teachers is not usually acceptable for fellowship and research opportunities at the college level. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you've engaged in research as a high school student and are applying to a competitive research fellowship that funds independent study (e.g. Herchel Smith Harvard Summer Science Fellowship ) as a first-year student, it may be acceptable to provide a letter from that experience, but only if the writer can provide strong evidence that you are qualified to pursue an independent research project.

Navigating Recommendations

Letters of recommendation are a critical part of academic and professional development. If you need a letter from a faculty member, research advisor, or other Harvard community member, do not be afraid to ask if they'd be willing to provide you a strong recommendation letter (even if the deadline is still years away, for instance, a medical school/graduate school application).

Help them help you.

Give thanks and provide updates.

Regardless of the outcome of your application, be sure that you let your recommenders know you appreciate the effort and time they put toward the recommendation and update them on the outcome of your joint efforts. Even after the experience is long over, do your best to check-in with those recommenders; keeping them engaged with your trajectory is the best way to keep them engaged as your advocate and mentor.

college application recommendation letter requirements

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Undergraduate admissions, first-year students.

We’re excited you want to join the Volunteer family! We are here to help every step of the way and can’t wait to review your application. Our application for 2023 opens on August 1.

FAFSA Application Opens

Early action admission application deadline, early action completion deadline, early action fafsa deadline, regular admission application deadline, regular admission completion deadline, fafsa priority filing date, confirmation deadline, decision release dates.

Early Action:  Mid-December

Regular Admission: Mid-February

Application Checklist

You will need the following items in order to complete your application:

Additional Application Requirements for Certain Programs

Additional requirements are needed to review your application if you are interested in the following programs:

To view individual requirements, please visit the application requirements page .

Application Review

UT has a competitive but holistic admissions process where we evaluate every part of your application, considering your experience and preparation in academic areas as well as other factors including:

Optional Supporting Statement

A supporting statement can provide crucial information to aid the admissions staff in reviewing your application. What do you want us to know about you? It can include your academic interests, achievements, involvement in the community, obstacles you’ve overcome, or other aspects of your background and experiences.

AP, CLEP, IB, Cambridge, and Statewide Dual Credit

Good scores on college placement exams are not required for admission to UT. However, they can earn you college credit and provide a head start on your academic career. Review the credit webpage often as there are frequent changes to these credits.

Application Status

After you submit your application, you can check your application status by visiting your Go Vols Portal . It’s important to check your portal often to see any important communication from UT, along with a list of any materials we still need to make an admissions decision. You can also upload supporting documents in your portal.

Once we’ve made a decision on your application, you will get an email instructing you to check your Go Vols Portal.

Go Vols Portal

Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR)

UT requires prospective students to self-report grades on their high school transcripts and standardized test scores . Our admissions team uses your self-reported grades to calculate your UT core GPA. For more information, visit .

You can submit your self-reported or official test scores through one of the following ways:

UT calculates a weighted core GPA based on your grades in the courses listed below. Completion of all sixteen core courses is not required for admission but strongly encouraged .

In the core academic subjects, your GPA will be weighted by UT to reflect honors courses (0.5 quality points added), Advanced Placement (AP), Cambridge AS and A Level, International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual enrollment courses (1.0 quality points added). UT calculates your GPA on a 4-point scale. UT will use unweighted high school course grades as the basis for adding these weightings for the UT core GPA calculation. If you attend a high school that does not weight courses, UT will also not weight them. However, the academic rigor of your curriculum is important and will be valued by our admissions review team.

Core Academic Subjects

Please see the State of Tennessee’s Department of Education website for graduation requirements.

Standardized Test Scores

Students applying for admission for the Summer 2023 and Fall 2023 semesters are required to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of their application.

All applicants will be reviewed holistically and considered for Honors & Scholars Programs plus many merit-based scholarships if their application is submitted and completed by the appropriate deadlines .

Please note that there are  certain student populations  who are required to submit test scores as part of their application.

If you choose to include test scores, we use the superscoring method, meaning we take your highest section scores of each test taken to determine your new composite score for application review.

Our codes are 4026 for ACT and 1843 for SAT.

Read UT’s test score policy.

Final High School Transcripts

Have your high school or college send us final transcripts after confirming your enrollment electronically ( or by mail to:

The University of Tennessee Office of Undergraduate Admissions 320 Student Services Building Knoxville, TN 37996-0230

If you have completed any high school or college academic work outside the United States, it may be necessary to have a third party company evaluate your transcript.

International students: Click here for transcript information

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway .

college application recommendation letter requirements

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First-Year Applicants

We accept first-year applications from students who are hoping to enroll full time at Columbia College or Columbia Engineering . Our admissions staff reviews each application holistically and with care in order to understand what each candidate might contribute to our undergraduate community . Our goal is to identify the applicants we believe will make the most of this experience—both during their time here, and throughout their lives.

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Frequently Asked Questions by Regular Decision Applicants

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Understanding the Process

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Class of 2025 Profile

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Testing Policy

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A Message for Prospective Applicants

First-year applicants faqs, should i apply early decision.

If Columbia is your first-choice school—and you are willing to make a binding commitment to attend if admitted—we encourage you to consider applying Early Decision. Learn more about the Early Decision process .

What are your secondary/high school course requirements for admission?

Columbia College:  The College has no explicit number of unit requirements for admission, but applicants must present evidence that they are prepared for college work in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, foreign languages and natural sciences. Accordingly, the College strongly recommends the following secondary school preparation:

Students who plan to become scientists, engineers, physicians or dentists should be as solidly grounded in mathematics and the sciences as their high school schedules and curricula have permitted. The study of mathematics, at least through pre-calculus, is strongly advised wherever possible.

Modifying the preparatory program just outlined—by taking more work in some subjects and less in others—is not only acceptable but may be desirable in individual cases. The vast majority of successful applicants to the College have taken five academic courses per term for all four years of secondary/high school.

Columbia Engineering:  The School of Engineering and Applied Science prescribes no standardized course of study for secondary school students applying for first-year admission. However, the Engineering curriculum is heavily driven by physics and calculus, so the school strongly advises these courses within the following recommended academic preparation:

How do I apply for financial aid?

The financial aid application process collects information about your family's income, assets, family composition and other circumstances. All requirements and submission instructions are detailed on the Financial Aid & Educational Financing website. Learn more about affordability and aid at Columbia .

What if I need an application deadline extension?

We understand that students personally affected by natural disasters, community disturbances or other extenuating circumstances may have challenges in completing their applications on time; they are invited to email us at [email protected] if their application will be arriving late.

A Columbia admissions officer talks about how we review applications and the philosophies that guide our work.

Application Details

Application requirements, application options.

Columbia accepts either the Coalition Application or the Common Application . We will also accept the QuestBridge Application from QuestBridge Finalists. These applications include:

Columbia-Specific Application Questions

In addition to the Coalition Application and the Common Application, you must also respond to Columbia-specific questions to provide the Admissions Committee with a fuller sense of you as a person—including your academic, extracurricular and intellectual interests.  These questions allow us to better understand your intellectual curiosity, habits of mind, love of learning and sense of self. These questions also allow the Admissions Committee to learn more about you in your current community and why you feel Columbia’s distinctive experiences in and out of the classroom would be a good fit for your undergraduate education.

Secondary School Report

2 Teacher Recommendations

Application Fee or Fee Waiver

An $85 nonrefundable application fee is required as part of an application to Columbia University. We are unable to refund the application fee under any circumstances. Submit payment online using an electronic check or Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express credit card. Payment (or fee waiver) is due at the time that you submit your application.

If paying the application fee is a significant financial burden for your family, we encourage you to request an automatic fee waiver through your admission application. You can determine your fee waiver eligibility today using this form .

Standardized Tests

Columbia is test-optional for transfer applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. Please review our  standardized testing policy  for additional details, as well as our  English language proficiency requirement  if applicable.

Dates & Deadlines

November 15


Early January

February 15

Early April


The first-year application is for students who plan to enroll full time in either Columbia College or Columbia Engineering .

If you’re a current college student, explore our Transfer , Combined Plan and Visiting Student programs. If you’re a potential applicant to Columbia College and you’ve taken a break of more than a year in your education (with the exception of those in mandatory military service) you should, instead, consider Columbia University's School of General Studies . The same is true for all students who wish to attend a part-time program. (If you’re interested in attending Columbia Engineering but have taken a break as described above, just apply as a first-year.)

If you have already submitted and then withdrawn an application during this application cycle, you are not eligible to reapply until the next application cycle.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials are not a required part of our admissions process—but there are occasions where they can enhance our understanding of your application. (In other words, it’s completely up to you if you’d like to include these materials.)

Interviews are conducted by select Student Interviewers and by volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee. Because we only have a finite number of volunteers and a vast number of applicants, we’re unable to interview everyone. As such, interviews are not required.

If you’re granted an interview, you’ll be connected with an interviewer after you submit your completed application materials. If you are not offered an interview, you are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process.  Learn more about interviews .

Accuracy & Authenticity

All applicants should review our Accuracy & Authenticity statement prior to submitting their application, as a ll applicants to Columbia University must confirm on their application that they understand and agree to adhere to the above expectations.

For questions about undergraduate admission and the application process, please visit our online FAQs .  If you still can't find your answer, please contact us .

Freshman Application Checklist

High school students and students with fewer than 12 semester hours or 18 quarter hours of university-level credit beyond secondary school should apply as freshman applicants..

Submitting Your Application

Applications are considered complete when the online application and all required documents have been submitted. All materials must be submitted electronically or postmarked by the  appropriate deadline  for consideration. You can track your application status and confirm receipt of application materials online through the Terps Application Portal  (TAP). You will receive an email with instructions on how to create a TAP account within two business days of submitting your application.

It may take up to 10 business days for recently submitted materials to be listed as received within TAP and it is the applicant's responsibility to confirm receipt of all required materials. Visit our  Submitting Documents  page to learn how you can submit the items below for a completed application.

Before you get started, consider the following questions:

Are you an international applicant?  | Students who are non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents should apply as international applicants and refer to the  international application checklist .

Do you need to provide proof of English proficiency? | If English is not your native language, regardless of your citizenship, or if you have taken English Second Language courses in high school, you must provide verification of your proficiency in English .

Do you have non-U.S. academic records? | If you have non-U.S. academic records for post-secondary/university work, please review our international applicant requirements for instructions on submitting these records.

Required Application Documents

1. Completed online application

We strongly encourage you to apply by the early action deadline to receive priority consideration for admission, merit-based scholarships and invitations to special programs. Applications must be completed online and all additional application materials must be received or postmarked by the appropriate deadline .

2. Nonrefundable application fee of $75

When completing your University of Maryland (UMD) application, you will be required to pay the $75 application fee on our secure website with a credit card unless you have received a fee waiver .  Fee waivers must be submitted prior to application completion for consideration. We cannot accept cash or check payments. 

3. Two letters of recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required for a completed application: one from your school counselor and one from a teacher. Recommendations must be sent to us directly from the recommender.

4. Official copy of your high school transcripts

Each high school you've attended must submit an official copy of your high school transcript(s) listing all courses you attempted/completed.

5. Official copy of your college transcripts (if necessary)

If you have completed any collegiate coursework, each institution you've attended must submit an official copy of your college transcripts listing all courses you attempted/completed.

If you have non-U.S. academic records for post-secondary work, please review our  international applicant requirements  as they might apply to you. 

6. Official standardized test scores (optional)

In recognition of the ongoing COVID-19 impacts on prospective students, UMD has decided to extend its practice to make SAT and ACT scores optional through to the Spring and Fall 2025 application cycles . You will be able to indicate your test-optional status on the application. Additional information can be found on our Future Terps Updates page.

If you would like to receive credit toward your degree for successfully completing  Advanced Placement (AP) ,  International Baccalaureate (IB) ,  A/AS level  examinations or certain other standard exams, you must submit those official scores upon receiving an offer of admission. 

7. Activities and awards list or resume

The Activities section of the application allows you to detail the various ways in which you spend your time outside the classroom. Please start by sharing the two experiences outside of your academic program that are most important to you. Whether community involvement, the arts, sports, work experience, research opportunities, family involvements or other activities and hobbies, you should share only what has been particularly meaningful (up to a maximum of eight). 

The essay provides you with the opportunity to tell the Admission Committee more about your personality and experiences. Our Essay Questions page provides the prompts from which you can select. 

9. School of Music application (School of Music applicants only)

In addition to the above items, students seeking enrollment into the School of Music must submit the online application supplement and complete an audition . The application supplement and audition will only be used to determine your eligibility for admission into the School of Music and will not be used in the review of your eligibility for admission to UMD.

10.  Terps Application Portal (TAP)

Within two business days of submitting your application, whether via Common App or StandOut Admissions Network, you will receive an email from our office with instructions on how to create a TAP account. Once you've created your account, you can access TAP to track your application status and confirm receipt of required materials. This is also where you will receive your electronic admission decision when it becomes available. 

If you are mailing any application materials, please send them to:

University of Maryland Office of Undergraduate Admissions Mitchell Building, 7999 Regents Dr. College Park, MD 20742-5235, USA

<< Freshman Applicant Requirements

Freshman Application FAQs >>

Terps love a challenge. A problem that needs a solution. A barrier that needs breaking down. You are smart, scrappy and determined. You value diversity, innovation, entrepreneurship and imagination. Ready to start your fearless journey?

Virtual Visit

You can only learn so much about a school from a brochure. even if we tell you how beautiful our campus is, or how fantastic our students and faculty are, you will not know for yourself until you experience it for yourself.

Come try on our campus for size! Stop by one of our top-notch athletic facilities. Have a scoop of homemade ice cream at the Dairy. Rub the nose of one of our beloved Testudo statues for good luck. Get all your questions answered. It won't be hard to picture yourself at home here for the next four years. 

Please visit our updates page for information regarding visit opportunity changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unable to make it to campus? Explore our beautiful campus from anywhere in the world!

Virtual Tour

You've done your research and explored your options, and you know that UMD is the perfect place for you. Now it's time to apply. 

Common app >>     standout admissions network >>.

Freshman applicants can apply using either the Common App or StandOut Admissions Network platforms. At this time, transfer applicants can only apply using StandOut Admissions Network.

Consistently ranked as one of the best values in public higher education, you can rest assured that you will receive an affordable world-class education.

College is a major investment for you and your family. The university is here to help. We offer an array of financial aid programs—including scholarships, grants, loans and student employment—as part of our commitment to making an excellent education affordable.


State of Maryland Residents     Non-Maryland Residents

The University of Maryland has launched a new investment in need-based financial aid, the Terrapin Commitment program, which will provide up to $20 million annually for students from the state of Maryland.

The goal of the Terrapin Commitment program is to reduce the gap between a student’s total financial aid package and the cost of an education. The program will begin in January 2023 and ensures that tuition and fees are fully covered for Pell eligible, in-state students, who are enrolled full time and have unmet financial need. More details can be found on the Office of Student Financial Aid's website.

Congratulations on your admission to the University of Maryland! We are excited to welcome you into our world of fearless ideas.

You’ve received your admission letter, checked out your major and started celebrating with family and friends. To make enrollment official, check out information for newly admitted students to get everything you need to start your academic career at UMD. 

ENROLL (Freshman)      ENROLL (Transfer)

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college application recommendation letter requirements

Dayton, Ohio

Sinclair community college.

Sinclair Community College’s Admission Requirements

Acceptance Rate

Your Chancing: Phase 1

Average SAT

SAT 25th-75th

Students Submitting SAT

Average (25th - 75th)

Reading and Writing


You should work toward getting your SAT score at or above the average score. However, if you’re making a tradeoff on what to improve – remember that SAT scores are important, but carry less weight than GPA and coursework.

Average ACT

ACT 25th-75th

Students Submitting ACT

You should work toward getting your ACT score at or above the average score. However, if you’re making a tradeoff on what to improve – remember that ACT scores are important, but carry less weight than GPA and coursework.

Wondering your admission chance to this school? Calculate your chance now

Your chancing: phase 2, extracurriculars.

Your extracurriculars can have a big impact on your admissions chances. Add in your activities to our Chancing Calculator to see their impact.

Recommendation letters

Having a great recommendation sometimes improves your chances, but it’s most important to make sure that you’re not disqualified because one is missing.

Application requirements

Learn about chancing, we evaluate your profile like colleges do, in two phases:.

Meet academic requirement for the demographic group you are in

The college reviews your academic profile to make sure that you are qualified. For applicants who don’t meet academic requirements, chances of acceptance drop significantly, regardless of their strength elsewhere.

Then college reviews the holistic parts of your application to choose from the students who made it past Phase 1.

How does the chancing calculator help me without counting in all the holistic factors?

You can use it as your baseline for building school lists, improving your profile, and coming up with application strategies.

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Letter of recommendation template for college admission application

As your student starts applying to colleges, they may be asked to provide letters of recommendation. Similar to professional references for a job application, a letter of recommendation gives an outsider’s perspective of your student’s work ethic and ability to do well in college, and it’s an aspect of many college applications. 

Your student should ask for recommendation letters from people in their life who can attest to their academic abilities, work ethic, passions and goals. This could be a teacher, a boss, a coach or leader of an extracurricular program, or some other adult mentor in your student’s life. They should be someone who knows your student in an academic or professional capacity. Your student should pick someone who knows them and their work well enough to have plenty of things to say and specific examples to share in their letter. For example, a leader of a club they’ve been a part of for only a couple weeks might not be the best choice because they don’t know your student very well yet. But a teacher who has known your student since their first year of high school is a great choice.

When reaching out to potential recommenders, your student should make sure they ask in advance so that the recommender has plenty of time to write. It’s important to remember that many students could be asking the same people for letters of recommendation, so they will need at least a few weeks’ notice. When asking, your student should tell their recommender why they’ve chosen them: because of the positive influence this person has had on your student’s life, and because of the professional relationship they’ve built. 

Your student should also share with their recommenders any specific information about their program or college goals. What do they hope to do with their degree? What are they passionate about, academically and personally? Where do they see themselves in the future? With this information, a recommender will be able to write a more personalized letter.

Even if the letter of recommendation is an optional part of a college’s application for admission, your student should still include them if they can. Having multiple professional resources to vouch for your student will reflect well on them and could increase their chances of admission.

We’ve created a sample template for you to share with your student to pass along to their recommenders.

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College Application Checklist

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Table of Contents

What is a College Letter of Recommendation?

Document Info

College Letter of Recommendation

College letter of recommendation form.

A college letter of recommendation is a letter created by a school counselor, employer, teacher, or another community member on behalf of a potential college student. Addressed and sent to the admissions committee, this letter highlights the accomplishments of the potential college student. It usually mentions at least one reason why the individual would make a good student at that particular college.

What is a letter of recommendation for college?

Who needs one, what information should be provided to writers, best practices.

Free College Letter of Recommendation

Related Documents

A College Recommendation Letter is a letter written by a school teacher, headmaster or private tutor to support their student's college application or application to grad school. The letter includes details about the person writing the letter and the student being written about.  This letter is an important part of the college admissions process.

The Letter also covers:

Both the writer and the college should keep a copy of the signed letter for their records.

Other names

What can a college letter of recommendation be used for?

You can adapt this letter for any application to a higher education institution or place of academic learning including:

college application recommendation letter requirements

Create a free College Letter of Recommendation in minutes with our professional document builder.

A letter of recommendation will strengthen any student's application to apply for further education at any college or educational institution.  It offers an independent and professional opinion about your skills, knowledge and potential.

Professionals at a higher education institution, HR professionals, or employers who are responsible for intake will be able to use letters of recommendation as an independent assessment of a potential student's capabilities and capacity for success in studying and / or learning with your organization.

People who may find this letter useful are:

A common form of a college letter of recommendation details the specific qualifications of the letter writer to write on behalf of the applicant, with details of:

Who should be selected to write a college letter of recommendation?

Teachers, coaches, tutors, and counselors are ideal choices to write a college letter of recommendation.  These professionals are able to describe a student’s qualifications, skills, work habits, and personality traits.

It is helpful for a student to choose a letter writer who that have a relationship with outside of school hours.  Good candidates include those who they have worked with in an academic club, on a sports team, or volunteering. Recommenders who know a candidate outside of the school environment are able to provide a fuller picture of the student.

The best teachers to ask for recommendation are your most recent teachers.  This is because students grow and change a lot during their high school years and admission officers would like the most current insights that are available.  Accordingly, it is best to ask teachers who have worked with your in you junior and senior years.

If a school asks you to provide multiple letters of recommendation, it is best to look from people who know you in different capacities.  For example, do not ask for 3 recommendations from 3 different English teachers. A better idea would be to ask 1 English teacher who also supervises your work on the school newspaper, 1 physics teacher, and 1 math teacher who knows about your volunteer work.

Also consider which teacher with give you the highest recommendation.  In which classes do you have the highest academic performance? Which teachers would be able to write about your personal character?  Is there a teacher who can honestly say that you have the highest test scores in their class or that you are a hard worker?

Check with your high school to see if they have a formal process for requesting letters of recommendation.  If they do not, it is best to ask your teacher for the letter in person.

Once someone has agreed to write your letter of recommendation, you should provide any information that will help the recommender’s writing process.  

Students should share information about their academic history and extracurricular activities.  It is also helpful if the student mentions particular achievements or experiences, such a project that the student did for the recommender’s class or contests that have been won.

Why are recommendation letters important?

Courses studied, tests and grades mostly impact college admissions decisions. More information is sought about you via your essays, extracurricular activities, work experience, your interview, as well as recommendations. Where competition is tight for places, a thorough review of you as an applicant means recommendations will matter more.

Components of a college recommendation letter template

A college recommendation letter should include an introduction, body, and conclusion.

How to write a letter of recommendation for college

If a student asks you to write a college recommendation letter you should:

The best college recommendation letters are enthusiastic and positive about a student.  The most effective letters focus on a student’s key personal and academic qualities and provide specific examples that highlight those qualities.

Before you begin writing your letter, brainstorm the qualities of the student that you wish to highlight and the specific examples that you will give.  Are you able to honestly recommend that student as an excellent addition to that school? If you cannot think of anything to highlight, consider whether you are the best person to write the recommendation letter.

If you have trouble writing your letter, you may want to look at sample letters online.

Legal Considerations

Am i allowed to check my recommender’s letter.

As a rule, no. A recommendation should be a true reflection of their view of you. Students may be obliged to sign a waiver to this effect. If a referee feels they cannot write a supportive letter on a student's behalf, they will not do so. To give student's the best chance of getting a good reference, they should approach two teachers well in advance of applications. Talking to them early on and offering them a resume to give the teacher more background on your professional and life goals, personal interests, activities, academic focus and college plans helps to bolster what is written about you with relevant examples of your skills, knowledge, capabilities and ambitions.

Submitting Letters of Recommendation

The writer of the letter is typically responsible for submitting their own letter for recommendation.  The recommenders will usually send them in electronically through whatever application platform a student is using.

If the recommendation letter deadline is approaching and your recommender has not submitted a letter yet, a student should ask if the person needs anything else to complete the letter.  This is a polite way to remind the recommender without being demanding.

Download a PDF or Word Template

A College Recommendation Letter is a letter written by a teacher, senior educational staff, or a private tutor. It supports their student's application to join a college course.

college application recommendation letter requirements

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Job Application

Job applications are used to record personal history and the former employment record of a potential employee. This gives employers a written history that they can use to determine if they would like to interview that person.

Business Plan

Without a plan, you're planning to fail. A business plan is an essential part of starting a business. It is a document that holds all of your plans and ideas for every aspect of your business. It's a necessity even if you don't plan on seeking investors or a business loan.

Sample College Letter of Recommendation

college application recommendation letter requirements

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Paraprofessional I (RSP) - New Haven School, 5 hrs./day at Manteca Unified School District

Manteca Unified School District Logo

About the Employer

MUSD works in partnership with families and the community to ensure a meaningful, measurable, student-centered program that aligns to grade-level standards, places safety as a priority, and supports all emerging students. Our diverse community spans the cities of Stockton, Lathrop, Manteca, and the township of French Camp. Our 23,600 students and over 3,000 staff members learn and work in a culture of creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative communication to expand the possible. We offer a variety of traditional and alternative educational settings for students and staff members. Our 30+ schools serve students from diverse cultural backgrounds and from physical areas ranging from rural to urban. The district spans approximately 113 square miles and is located in the southern part of San Joaquin County.

Job Information

Requirements / qualifications.

Please attach the following documents to be considered for an interview: 1. Resume 2. One (1) Professional Letter of Recommendation 3. One of the following - Transcripts showing completion of 48-semester units, or - Associate of Arts degree or higher, or - Paraprofessional Certificate Please be advised that your application will be considered incomplete if the above requirements are not attached to your on-line application by the deadline date. EDUCATION REQUIREMENT: High school diploma or equivalent and 48 college units or Associate of Arts degree or higher or pass proficiency requirements established by the District. PRE-EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS (At Employee Cost if hired): - TB Clearance - Fingerprinting PREFERENCE WILL BE GIVEN TO INSIDE CANDIDATES.

Comments and Other Information

Manteca Unified School District Logo

Application Deadline

3/22/2023 4:00 PM Pacific

Date Posted

Number of openings, length of work year, employment type, classified location:, posting number:, work shift:, links related to this job.

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