Essays and Recommendations
Your essays and recommendations showcase who you are as a person and what you can bring to the table. Your essays show how you view things through your perspective, while your recommendations show how you work in the classroom.
In the later part of your junior year (around May), you should start to ask teachers for letters of recommendation. Ask as soon as possible because some teachers get a lot of requests! Check with the schools you’re applying to, but you should ideally ask two teachers from your junior year who have taught you in English, History, World Language, Math, or Science. Again, some colleges or programs might ask you for specific recommendation letters, so make sure to look at your requirements.
When your teachers agree to write letters for you, it helps to provide them with a Teacher Brag Sheet so they can write a more personal letter. You can find one on the Counseling Canvas page. Some teachers have their own requirements, though, so please ask them!
You’ll have to write a personal statement that gets sent to all your colleges. For Common App, here are the prompts, and here are the prompts for Coalition App (Rutgers usually uses Coalition prompts). Many colleges will also ask you to write a supplemental prompt, often about your interest in the school. It’s tough to write about yourself, so here are some tips!
- Your essays aren’t a brag sheet. You have an activities section to show off all you’ve done! For your personal statement, tell a vivid, detailed story about you. You’re the only person who has experienced life through your eyes–what’s something unique to you, or a unique perspective you have?
- For your supplemental essays, take this time to figure out what you want to get out of college. Research classes, clubs, and opportunities for your school that you won’t get anywhere else.
- Spend a lot of time working on your essays; don’t rush them! You need as much time as possible to craft your narrative. From experience: You need time to look at your essays. Don’t fret if you find yourself writing multiple versions.
- Try looking at your school’s websites and seeing what they’re looking for in their essays. Here are some samples from Johns Hopkins and Tufts. Make sure your essays show YOUR voice, though!
Before we go, here’s one final word of advice: Don’t compare yourself or your decisions to others. Once May of your senior year comes around, it’ll be easy to fall into this trap. However, you’ll be about to leave high school and all the people you might be comparing yourself to. Don’t stress!
Use the menu up top to go to the final step: Applying.