Keep Pushing On
Welcome to your 3rd year of high school. In 10th grade, you studied for the 4 tests you will take or retake this year.
Now that you know your weak areas, this year you'll work towards getting college-ready scores.
After your productive summer, be sure to update your resume on any new activities or awards you received.
Here's what you should have so far
Participate in a club or afterschool activity
Knowledge about FASFA and financial aid
5 colleges or universities of your choice
Baseline test scores
A good GPA
Some Community service hours
The degree you will pursue after high school
Paying for college
You hear about students complaining about paying for college. And how they struggle to pay off loans and debt later in life. Lets see how you can avoid that.
Financial aid is simply funding for students attending a post-secondary institution. The most popular type of financial aid are loans, scholarships, or government aid.
Loans are not only the easiest type of financial aid to get, but the one that causes the most heartache, as you have to work to pay it back. We believe loans should only be used as a last resort for paying for your college expenses. As there are enough scholarships out there to cover everything you need.
Steps to Financial Aid
Apply to a university or college by the school deadline.
Complete the FASFA at fasfa.gov. after JAN. 1. Check the school's priority filing date.
Search for scholarships. Keep track of the details and deadlines.
Receive the award notification from the school (it may be paper or electronic).
Respond to the award notification by accepting, rejecting, or accepting a reduced amount of financial aid.
If accepting student loans, complete and sign a master promissory note (MPN).
Complete entrance counseling if accepting a loan.
Follow the school's procedures to confirm attendance so that financial aid can be applied to charges.
If receiving a credit refund, set up a budget for the school term.
Make payment arrangements for any outstanding balances due to the school.
The Letter That Advocates for You
While you’re navigating high school and your classes, you should try to make a good impression and form a good relationship with each of your teachers. Not only will this make it easier to ask for help and navigate your classes throughout high school, but it will also give you a plethora of options to choose from when deciding which teachers are going to write your recommendation letters.
Requesting Letters of Recommendation
Ideally, the teacher who writes your recommendation has known you for a long time, thinks you are a great student and a great candidate for college, and has some positive experiences with you that he or she can talk about.
Once you’ve identified which teachers fit the profile best, you need to kindly and thoughtfully request a letter of recommendation from them, preferably at the beginning of your senior year or earlier. When it comes time to request letters of recommendation, you need to make sure you do it right.
After all, teachers are busy, they don’t get paid for writing your letter of recommendation, and they probably have many other students asking them for letters as well. You want to make sure you ask your teacher to write you a recommendation well ahead of time. In a way that is kind and respectful so that he or she agrees.
In order to ensure the best possible letters for your college applications, make sure to follow these nine guidelines for requesting a letter of recommendation. As long as you do the following, your teacher is unlikely to turn you down!
Planning Ahead Helps you meet deadlines
Ideally, you should know which teachers you will request to write your recommendation letters well in advance, before the start of your college applications. By the end of your junior year, start thinking about which teachers you have had the greatest relationships with throughout your high school career. Try to narrow it down to the 2 or 3 teachers whom you think would be the best to ask.
Some teachers are kind enough to accept recommendation letter requests during the summer, before your senior year so that they have ample time to write you a great letter. Those teachers are incredible, so be sure to catch them and ask before summer vacation starts.
For those teachers who are willing to write you a letter, but will need to wait until the Fall, make sure to ask them at the beginning of your senior year, or at least ask them a few months before the application deadline. This way, they’ll have ample time to put together a good letter for you. Advanced notice is crucial if you want to get a good letter.
Remember To Ask Nicely
Remember, writing recommendation letters is not part of a teacher’s job. If a teacher agrees to write you a letter, they are doing it purely out of the goodness of their heart. You should be grateful for this and take this into consideration when asking your teachers.
Thus, asking for a letter shouldn’t just be a two-sentence email, telling them that they have to write you a letter. If you can, take the time to stop by their classroom, chat with them, catch up, and then ask politely whether they have the time/would be willing to help you get into college by writing you a letter of recommendation.
Show that you are asking them to do this for you because you trust them, and they were one of your favorite teachers. Make sure you give them a resume, so they have information to talk about in the letter. If asking your teacher in person is not an option and you have to request a letter of recommendation by email, make sure that it is written formally and kindly. Be sure to include some updates on your life and other relevant information in the email along with some nice compliments about your teacher’s teaching style and some fond memories you have of him/her.
Make Sure You Know What Kind of Letter You Are Requesting
The unfortunate truth is that not all recommendation letters are created equal. Some teachers take the time to write extraordinary letters that absolutely shower a student with praise and jubilee. These are the teachers you want to try to find sooner, rather than later.
Other teachers may write a generic letter, a short letter, or they may even just get a template letter off of the internet. Usually, a teacher will be honest about what kind of letter they are going to write if you ask them. If they tell you you won’t get a personalized letter from them, it’s not that they don’t mean well. Rather, some teachers are just busier than others and some have more experience in writing recommendation letters than others.
Keep in mind that when you’re asking what kind of letter you might get, you need to make sure you phrase it correctly. Don’t ask your teacher whether she or he is going to write you a good letter or a bad letter or whether your teacher spends a lot of time on each letter. Just ask your teacher how they usually format their letters, or what kind of information about the student they like to add in their letters. That’ll probably give you all the indication you need, for what kind of letter your teacher would write for you.
Always Be Professional
While you’re corresponding with the teacher who is writing your recommendation letter, don’t be sloppy. Remember that this teacher is evaluating you for a college, and they will probably draw on the most recent experiences they can remember with you. Thus, you need to make sure that the interactions you have, while they’re writing your letter, or when you ask for a letter are professional, kind, and well-mannered.
More specifically, this means that if you’re emailing a teacher, make sure it is a professional email with no grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. If you’re talking to the teacher in person, you don’t have to be too formal, but you should make sure you are polite, well-dressed, and well-mannered throughout the interaction.
Go down memory lane
While you’re asking for a letter, you should be sure to bring up some memories that you had with him/her to help job his/her memory and remember you as a student. Bring up a specific experience you had with your teacher that you really enjoyed or something she/he taught you that you haven’t forgotten all this time.
Always Follow Up
After you talk with your teacher and they agree to write you a letter of recommendation, don’t just leave it there. Be sure to send them an email or some more informal form of communication thanking them again for agreeing to write a recommendation letter and asking if there is any information about you that they need to write a great recommendation.
You can also contact them periodically before the letter is due, to make sure they haven’t forgotten to write the letter. You can remind them about the application due date, see if the letter is in progress, and ease some of the anxiety you might be feeling as you wait for the letter to be finished.
Make It Easy
You can’t just ask someone to write you a recommendation letter and give them nothing to work with. You must give them something like your resume or something else that’ll give them some background about you, what your skills and abilities are, and what you’ve been up to for the past four years.
Always give your resume with all the relevant information, so you make it easier for them to write the letter. You should also give your teacher all the logistical information he or she will need to write this letter, like your GPA, class rank, unofficial transcript, and most importantly, the deadline for when this letter is due. You want the teacher to leave with more than enough information to write you a great letter of recommendation.
A good teacher will incorporate that information into their letter and link it to his/her own experiences with you as a student.
Send a Reminder
Remember that teachers have a lot on their plates and that they aren’t perfect. Even if a teacher agrees to write a letter of recommendation and gives you every assurance that it will happen on time, they may forget as time passes or they may not submit the letter by the deadline. It’s up to you to check in with the teachers that you’ve asked to write your recommendation letters and make sure that they haven’t forgotten.
You don’t have to check-in too often. In fact, repeatedly bugging your teachers about the letter may annoy them. Wait a few weeks at a time before sending a quick email to check on the progress. Don’t make it a long email. Just a few sentences is fine, so you don't waste your teacher’s time. If the deadline gets close and your teacher still hasn’t finished the letter, you can start contacting them a bit more frequently. Still, be conscious and respectful of your teachers’ responsibilities. After all, your letter is probably not the most important thing on their mind.
Finally, Please Say Thank You (and show it)
Once your teacher has written your recommendation letter, it is so important that you thank them for taking the extra time and effort to help you with your college applications. A simple email may not be enough in this case. Many students opt to give a little gift, like a gift card or something homemade like a card to show their appreciation.
P.S: If you really want to show them how much they've helped you. When you get accepted into a college, send them another thank you email with your acceptance letter.
An Overview of Recommendation Letters in the Application Process
Some colleges require their applicants to submit letters of recommendation from their teachers or counselors. In this case, it is customary for the student to ask for a recommendation letter from a teacher who knows them well and can attest to their skills and competence. It is common courtesy to ask for a recommendation letter at least a month or two in advance so that the teacher can have adequate time to prepare and write the best letter possible.
If the college allows the teacher to show the recommendation letter to the student beforehand, the student is more than welcome to look. However, with some college applications, the student does not get to see the recommendation letter after it is written.
The teacher will either upload the letter to the correct application portal or mail the letter as a hard copy. Note that if a recommendation letter must be mailed, it is polite for the student to offer an envelope, stamp, or any other postage fees.
Once all is said and done, it is also polite for the student to thank the teacher for writing a recommendation letter. After all, letters of recommendation can help a student not just with college applications, but with a scholarship, job, and/or internship applications in high school as well. A strong letter of recommendation is a key indicator of strong performance in the classroom to an Admissions Committee. In some cases, a good letter of recommendation can even sway the application decision one way or the other.