Letters of Recommendation for College Applications

  • Brag Sheet Deadlines 

    The following deadlines are for Counselor Letters, but you should give teachers this much lead time as well. 

    • App Deadline November 1? Brag sheet to counselor by October 7.
    • App Deadline November 15? Brag sheet to counselor by October 21.
    • App Deadline December 1? Brag sheet to counselor by November 10.
    • App Deadline January 1 - 9? Brag sheet to counselor by December 2.

    It is NOT your recommender's job to track you down! It is up to you to submit brag sheets and to do all Naviance steps properly. 


    Expand each step below for detailed instructions. See also:

    • Letters of Recommendation screencast for a walk-through of the process 
    • the Naviance how-to video at the bottom of this page for the Naviance portion of the request

    Rising Seniors:  You can do up to Step 3 in the spring/ summer. Please wait until fall to complete Steps 4-8. 

LOR Preference Graphic
  • View the above image about who to ask to write letters for you:  LOR Preference

Letters of Recommendation Documents

Letter of Recommendation Q&A

  • How do I decide which teachers to ask?

    Posted by:

    Ask teachers who know you well. You do not have to be getting an A in the class. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Does it matter which class I had the teacher for?

    Posted by:

    Colleges generally want letters from teachers of core subjects (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) for the required number of letters. If a college requires two letters, then ask core teachers for those two. If a college requires one letter but will take two, you could ask a core teacher for the one letter and use a non core teacher (language, music, art, elective) for the other letter. 

    Comments (-1)
  • What if I am applying to a special program?

    Posted by:

    That is relevant. If you are applying as a direct admit to an engineering program, you should include at least one STEM teacher. If you are applying to a music conservatory, you should include at least one music teacher. Feel free to ask college representatives for the colleges' preferences for questions at this level, because the answers may vary from school to school.

    Comments (-1)
  • Do I need to provide the maximum number of letters they allow?

    Posted by:

    No. If a college requires two letters but will take up to four, they will not devalue your application if you provide two. 

    Comments (-1)
  • May I have a non-Shorewood teacher write a letter?

    Posted by:

    Yes, if you are willing to do a bit of extra work. 

    See Letter Writer Isn't a Shorewood Teacher above. 

    If the recommender is a Shorecrest teacher, we can do the same procedure in general, but if the teacher works at a middle or elementary school, you will have to go through the process outlined in the headline above. 

    If your teacher is retired, teaches out of district, or is one of your professors for a Running Start class, you will have to do some legwork. See the options in the headline above. 

    Comments (-1)
  • What if the letter has not been uploaded/ sent?

    Posted by:

    There are two common problems in the letter procedure:  

    1. Teachers may have uploaded but not sent the letters. Teachers are asked to not only upload, but also electronically send the letters so that the letters are an arrangement between the student, the teacher, and the college (not with the rest of the Shorewood staff). If there is a glitch, sometimes the teacher cannot send. If the teacher asks  Mrs. Stephens or Ms. Hurley directly to send a particular letter, we will do so. 

    2) Letters cannot be sent to Common App schools until the teacher also completes a short evaluation. If your teacher does not know how to complete the evaluation, Mrs. Stephens or Ms. Hurley will help. Mrs. Stephens can re-send instructions to any teachers who need them. 

    Comments (-1)
  • How can I view the letters?

    Posted by:

    You cannot, unless the teacher chooses to provide you with a copy. (Do not ask the teacher for it!)

    The FERPA waiver that you sign when you set up the application systems in Naviance and the Common App says that you waive your right to see the letters. This step is regarded as the standard, since it shows integrity on your part. Colleges will not trust letters that they know have been screened by the student. 


    Comments (-1)
  • What if I need a letter for a scholarship application?

    Posted by:

    Scholarships often ask for letters of recommendation. 

    If you already asked teachers for letters for college applications, ask the teacher(s) if they would be willing to repurpose their letters for your scholarship application. Please give them plenty of notice since they will have to adjust how the letter is written. 

    Scholarships vary in how they wish the letters to be submitted. There may be an online portal, they may wish the recommenders send letters directly to a particular email address, or they may wish for a hard copy (in a sealed envelope) to be submitted with your paper application. In any of the above cases, it is best if you handle the letters as little as possible so that they are confidential. 

    If you do not already have letters for college applications, then ask for a letter several weeks in advance and ask if they would like you to fill out a brag sheet. If they would, type the answers and email them to the teacher. Also be sure they know the scholarship deadline. 

    Thank your teacher for the letters! 

    Comments (-1)