Some of our students are expressing concern over properly handling their teacher recommendations on the Common App. As one of our students expressed, “The thing I'm most concerned about are my letters of recommendation. Common App has a section of the application process called FERPA and I believe every college on the Common App requires it. It requests that I give my counselor information so that they can "complete the School Report and other forms" for me. Then it asks for teacher information for their recommendation.
I have several questions about this. If every college I'm applying to requires this action, do I need to do it once and it applies to all the colleges? Or do I have to do it for every school separately? Also, I'm applying to many film schools which require another letter of recommendation for the additional portfolio. How do you think I should approach teachers so that I'm not constantly emailing them about writing multiple essays?
This is overwhelming for me...”
We’re so glad that our clients are reaching out for assistance, and we’d like to offer the following ideas to get our students going on this with confidence.
First, there are several steps in assigning your recommenders. Basically, you add them to a list of recommenders on the Common App, then you assign them to the specific schools for which you want them to recommend.
This article on the Common App outlines the process nicely.
In terms of asking for an additional recommendation for film schools, I can tell you that as a former high school teacher, I always understood that this is part of my job and my responsibilities. Good teachers who know you (these are the ones you want to approach) will be happy to write for you. My suggestions are to: 1) ask them early in the process so that they have plenty of time; 2) provide them with some reminders of what they might be able to talk about in the letter (projects you worked on, etc.); and 3) if possible, ask them in person and then follow up with an email/instructions.
Unfortunately, some teachers are not as responsible and timely as we hope. It is appropriate for you to check that your recommendation has been submitted to the school; Do this about 10 days before the recommendation is due.
It’s understandable that approaching teachers can be intimidating for some students. It’s important to remember that teachers and counselors understand this requirement for college admissions, and most of us are happy to help.