After the long and daunting process of getting together your college recommendations, you can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. You’ve formed strong academic and extracurricular relationships at your school, you’ve reached out to teachers who know you and support your goals, and you’ve got your recommenders set to write for you. Hooray! But now’s not the time to rest on your laurels. Even after you’ve gotten your recommenders on your team, getting your letters of recommendation in order can require a lot of organization and administrative attention to detail. So how should you go about managing your recommendations without losing track of them or yourself? Let’s take a look:
Names, Dates, and Other Info
Even through a standardized system like the Common App, recommendations can be tricky to manage. Since each school admissions team has their own rules and processes regarding recommendations, the letters will each have their own due dates, deadlines, and rules about submitting via email vs. electronic form vs. snail mail. It’s a lot to keep track of!
How do you manage it all? Enter the Excel sheet. You’ve likely used Excel for school projects before; even if you haven’t, there’s plenty of information available online to get you started. In order to manage your recommendations more efficiently, it can be a smart move to make an Excel sheet of the schools you’re applying to, recommendations needed, due dates and deadlines, and the status of each of them. That way, you have all your necessary information in one place, which can easily be checked on and updated throughout the application process.
Some students may also find it useful to have a similar document in longer, more detailed form. This can be on a paper or virtual calendar, although some like to have a physical document they can keep in their sight so they don’t forget to check it. Whatever works for you, so long as you have a place to turn to check on important dates and you and your recommenders’ progress towards them!
Keeping in Touch
Having trouble balancing all these times and dates along with your schoolwork? Well, your recommenders may be having a hard time too. This is where keeping in touch comes in. A week or so before the recommendation deadline, it’s a good time to reach out to them via email, and politely remind them it’s coming due soon. It won’t look like you’re being a pest — it’s an important way to be responsible and make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
Closing Out a Case
Your recommendation has been confirmed to have been received by your college! Finally! Good news calls for celebration, but should also be marked. Make a note, or better still, highlight the row on your Excel sheet once a recommendation has been sent and received. This will provide you a quick shorthand as you go to know which letters are done and dusted, and allow you to focus your time on things that actually need doing, while keeping you from worrying over something that’s already been taken care of.
And remember, your recommender has done something important for you, so show a little gratitude — send a thank you note, or a grateful email, once your recommendation is in. It’s a small gesture that can mean a lot to someone who has helped you.
Managing your recommendations, and applying to college in general, can be a lot for anyone to keep track of, especially on top of full-time schoolwork. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Counselors, teachers, and professionals like the A-List team, who’ve seen generations of students through the college application process, are all there to help — and are eager to guide you towards college success!