Does the idea of asking for a letter of recommendation make you want to curl up in the fetal position?
Guess what? You’re not alone in those feelings.
And lucky for you, we have some tips and tricks to help you conquer your fears and make your college application shine.
Letters of recommendation help college admission officers get to know you “beyond the application.” Sometimes, that can mean reinforcing certain traits that are present in your essay or activities. It can also highlight your leadership skills, sense of humor, and being a team-player. They can also reveal new ones like creativity, thoughtfulness, and your competitive spirit.
Since we’re over a year into a pandemic, you may have fallen out of touch with the people you would normally ask for a recommendation. That’s okay! This past year has been strange territory for all of us.
Let’s explore why utilizing brag sheets may be the key to getting those letters of recommendation done.
Letters Of Recommendation & Brag Sheets
Asking for letters of recommendation may be a scary thought for some. Keep reading to learn how to stop stressing and get the glowing letters of recommendation you deserve.
Are you looking for more guidance through the college application process? Bright Futures is here to help. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you navigate the process.
Taking The First Step Towards A Successful Recommendation Letter
So how do you get one of these insightful, detailed letters from a teacher, coach, or mentor?
Well, first you need to ask them if they would be willing to write one for you. The best time to do this is in the late spring of junior year. If that time has already passed, reach out to your people as soon as possible.
Once they’ve agreed, it’s standard procedure to present the recommender with a resume or a “brag sheet.” A brag sheet is something that goes beyond a list of activities.
Some recommenders might say to ask them again in the fall but will take the opportunity to write the letter over the summer. So go ahead and send your brag sheet so they’ll have all the information they need when they sit down to write your letter.
Additionally, it also asks for you to list your strengths, personality traits, interests, and sometimes more. Check with your high school counselor to see if they have a standard form they use for recommendation letter brag sheets.
Mastering Brag Sheets
Creating a brag sheet might feel weird, but the benefits will be worth it. To help, here is some advice for completing your brag sheet.
Need help sorting out your brag sheet? Reach out to Bright Futures to get your college application process moving in the right direction.
Be Specific And Use Detailed Examples To Validate Your Assertion
Have you heard the phrase show don’t tell? Whether or not this is something you’ve done before, you’re about to get some practice.
Here is a great example of two different versions of describing your strengths. One simply states the strength and expects the reader to take them at their word. The other details an example of putting their problem-solving skills to work.
Do this: I believe creative problem solving is one of my strengths. An example of this is when COVID prevented the Yearbook staff from taking pictures of students. So I decided to ask students to send me pictures of themselves doing virtual learning activities.
Not this: I believe creative problem solving is one of my strengths. For example, I helped my Yearbook team with some issues we encountered this year.
Be Honest Always
Although it may be tempting, don’t make up interests or strengths that you believe sound impressive. Instead show the real you.
Trust me, trying to make up examples that also aren’t true is not worth the effort. Also, getting caught in a lie isn’t a good look and could have more serious repercussions.
You are awesome. Be proud of your innate strengths and unique personality.
Be Direct And Stay On Topic
Keep in mind the point of the brag sheet. You’re supplying the writer of the recommendation letter with content. They’re doing you a favor, so make it as easy as possible for them.
Don’t make recommenders guess what you want them to write. State things in a clear manner. Look at the detail in the following examples of what to do and what not to do.
Do this: I have a passion for science and plan to do research in the field of biology to further the field of epidemiology. Currently I am interning with an epidemiologist for the City of XYZ and helping them document research.
Not this: My favorite class right now is AP Physics, but I also liked biology in 9th grade. I think I want to study something science-related and be a doctor one day.
Realize That COVID-19 Has Been A Strange Time For Everyone
Many students are worrying about asking for a letter of recommendation from a teacher with whom they’ve had little to no interaction this year because of COVID.
However, this is why providing a brag sheet or resume is vital. Most teachers are not asking for you to give examples specific to their classroom. Although if you can, great! The recommender wants to know who you are beyond your grades and Zoom ID.
Furthermore, if you are asking a current teacher, then participate and interact as much as possible in class. Join in on classroom chats. Email your teacher when you have questions or want clarification on an assignment. Keep notes on your role in group projects. All of this helps a teacher get to know you!
Need More Help With College Applications?
You’re in the right spot. Bright Futures works with high school students to help them through the entire college application process. Learn more by visiting our website.
If you’re ready to schedule a consultation, email us at [email protected] or give us a call (281) 486-0023.