Junior year of high school can be a pivotal year in the college application process. You’ll probably take the SAT or ACT for the first time, begin searching for colleges, and go on your first college visits. In addition to these college application milestones, junior year is also an ideal time to identify which teachers will write your recommendation letters. As you go into junior year, here are some things to keep in mind with respect to college recommendation letters.
Junior year teachers are ideal letter writers. You may have enjoyed a great rapport with your teachers from 9th and 10th grade, but by the time you get to senior year, your academic work with those teachers, and their perceptions of you, will be over two years old. Your 11th grade teachers will have worked with you for a full year before writing your recommendation letters, giving them plenty of time to get to know you and develop a relationship with you. They will also have worked with you recently, giving admissions officers an up-to-date representation of who you are in the classroom.
Make the extra effort this year. By the time this coming school year is over, you will want to have a couple of teachers in core subjects (English, math, science, history, and foreign language) with whom you’ve developed a strong rapport. To build that relationship, in addition to completing your homework in a timely manner and being well-behaved in class, you should also work on being an active class participant. Make a point of contributing in class discussions, taking initiative in group projects, asking thoughtful questions, and being proactive about communicating with your teachers. By putting the extra effort into your classroom participation and involvement this year, you will benefit with strong recommendation letters next year.
You might not need college recommendation letters until senior year, but you’ll want to start thinking about them now. By the end of the year you want to feel confident that you have a couple of teachers who like you and could write strong letters of recommendation for you. With some forethought, planning, and extra effort in the classroom during junior year, you’ll be setting yourself up for strong college recommendation letters next year.