How do I write a good recommendation?

QuestBridge -

Answers from the QuestBridge Educator Advisory Committee:

  • Learn as much of the student's story as you can and seek their teachers' input.
  • If you do not know the student well, invite them to Interview with you so that you can get to know them better.
  • Make it personal to you and the student....know the student's story, and use that to anchor your letter....Don't review the facts that all will see on the transcript or test scores; rather, write a letter of how that student has impacted those around them and what the student can offer at the collegiate level.
  • Don't repeat anything that is already on the student's application--what insight can you, as an adult with perspective and a "big picture" outlook, bring to the student's application that the student may be unaware of? Be personal and genuine--and if a student's situation seems too personal to discuss, be frank about it with the student and get permission before using it as part of the recommendation.
  • There are certainly any number of ways to approach writing a solid recommendation.  I tend to use what I know about the student.  If I use someone's observation, it only supports that. You can take one kernel of information that you are very familiar with about a student and build a very compelling recommendation.
  • I request both a Student and Parent Questionnaire before the college meeting during the 2nd semester of the junior year. This information gives me insight into the student's activities, interests and aspirations. The Parent Questionnaire gives parents the opportunity to "brag" and highlight the student's strengths. I also stay in contact with the junior throughout the semester and request that they share information with me regarding their summer plans.
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