How to get a good recommendation for admission part II

A short note on getting good recommendations: It’s important to ask the right question. Many applicants (those without my sage advice) will go up to the teacher/coach/personal guru of choice and ask something lame like, “Please won’t you help me and write me a recommendation when you have the time?” To get the full effect, imagine whimpering and puppy dog eyes.

Here’s the right way to ask, “I hate to intrude, but you totally rocked my world as my teacher/coach/personal mentor and I really admire. I’m very much hoping to go to George Mason University which is beyond any doubt the best school on the planet. The deadline for having my application complete to be considered is January 15, 2008. Do you by any chance have the time to get a recommendation in by then, and would you be comfortable writing me a GOOD recommendation.”

Many students rememeber the initial components of this request which are 1) suck up and 2) make sure the recommender has the time by the deadline. Many, however, leave out the last part. If you remember it you may get an answer like, “Well, I can write you a TRUTHFUL recommendation.” At this point, politely decline their offer and move on down your list. TRUTHFUL is code for “I have a few bad things to say about you, and I will feel compelled to include those in any document I send, so be warned that toilet papering my house your freshman year will now cost you dearly, even though I feel compelled to give you fair warning by saying TRUTHFUL in capital letters.”

Remember that a recommendation is intended to RECOMMEND you. I get a slew that start out listing everything the applicant has ever done wrong (yes, including tping a teachers house – I think I admitted her anyhow). Your not only looking for someone that knows you well, but someone you are sure will say really nice things about you – and preferably just the nice stuff. Be seeing you.


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