3 months ago
Admissions Advice

What do I do if I have nobody to write me letter of recommendation?

Throughout my entire high school period, I haven't had the same teachers. Plus, here in my country, teachers don't really talk to their students besides teaching and answering their doubts. They do not know our personalities, or some don't even know our names. How do I ask a teacher to write a letter of recommendation in this case? Is there a better alternative to this? I also had a different school during my freshman and sophomore years at high school, so none of my old teachers is in contact with me. Also, my new school's teacher's don't know me personally because they just teach. I have absolutely no one to write me rec letters.HELP!!


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5 answers

Accepted Answer
3 months ago

Hi @mmkdp! It’s okay to be worried about who to ask for a letter of recommendation – this is a difficult task for a lot of students!

First off, is there a teacher whose class you really enjoy? Maybe this class helped you decide what you want to study in college? It’s okay if this teacher doesn’t know you SUPER well at the moment, but if you were attentive in class, regularly answered questions, etc., the teacher will definitely recognize you if you approach them for a LOR. If they agree to write one for you, but you are worried that they do not know specific things about you, make a list of your attributes and extracurriculars that you want them to mention and give it to them – something similar to a resume. If they want more info about anything, let them know that they can contact you for more details. Alternatively, you can also ask your counselor for a LOR if you cannot find a teacher.

Also, is there a club advisor or mentor that has had an impact on you? Maybe they can speak to your abilities outside of the classroom (skills in leadership, communication, organization, etc.). Like @unior mentioned, asking a previous employer would also be great.

I would advise you to not ask friends or family because it is difficult for them to be objective about you. As a result, colleges will not take these LORs as seriously.

3 months ago[edited]


In my case, I have a couple of teachers in mind already because I attended the same school for 7-8 years and all my teachers know my name and who I am.

However, I was surprised to find a lot of my school friends struggling with finding the right teacher for the teacher recommendation letter.

Since you mentioned "freshman and sophomore years at high school," I am assuming you are going to be either a junior or a senior.

I think I'll be able to give a better advice if I know what grade you are in, but anyways, I think you still have some chance to be close with your teachers. Don't be too obvious, but maybe give them thank you letters or Christmas gifts or candy grams (we have a Candy Gram Week every year at our school).

Although I have teachers who I have a connection with, I do not have a close connection with my school counselors and I might need a recommendation letter from them when I apply to universities. So, I get what you're trying to say.

I am also thinking of ways to be "close" with them but by acting natural and not too obvious.

As I am still a student, I am not sure if you are allowed to get recommendation letters from friends or other adults from your extracurricular activities instead. I think the recommendation letters have to be from your school teachers.

So, my idea is, ask a lot of questions. Teachers like students who are genuinely curious and passionate about their subject. Then, maybe make a club (do you have a subject you are interested in?) if you are a junior. If you are a senior, then obviously, you can't suddenly make a club as it takes a long time. Eat lunch with your teachers (I had a P.E. teacher who was about to give me an A- during the course and I got so upset about it, I decided to be friends with her and make her give me an A. It worked. I sometimes eat with her during Lunch, even though it has been like 3 years since that incident).

One great advice is to make a specific event/incident that includes both you and your teacher so that you guys have a special connection.

For example, I was really stressed about some things when I was in 10th grade and while I was asking my math teacher a math question, I just literally cried in front of him. I'm the type of person who rarely cries in front of anyone because I think it makes me weak. Somehow, though, I was really stressed and just cried. He was a really socially awkward teacher who was new to the school and probably did not have a lot of friends. However, after I started crying, he attempted to hug me and told me to sit down and talk about what is happening in my life. After that, I occasionally eat Lunch with him.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, make an episode that could link you guys together. If you are really desperate, you can think about something stressful in your life (but don't talk about your struggle with finding the right teacher for the teacher recommendation letter, since it will defeat the purpose), which could be a major thing or a minor thing, and ask a teacher if he or she is free. Then, you guys can sit down and eat Lunch or just sit down in the class. People like to feel like they are helping others. Make the teachers sympathize with your struggles and they will feel like they are helping you and that you guys have some kind of "secret."

This is also random, but just to give you a general idea, I had a time when I was playing with a guy friend and he punched me in the face for fun, breaking the nose pad on the pair of glasses I was wearing. I was so mad at him for that because he did not apologize and acted as if nothing happened. I told him I was busy and ran to school. That day, when I came to my house, I cried because I had that pair of glasses since 4th grade (basically it's my first pair of glasses) and I did not know if I could fix it. I quickly sent an email to one of my homeroom teachers (she was also my new English teacher) because I was that mad at the boy and wanted revenge. I got another pair of glasses that night and went to the school on purpose wearing that pair of glasses so people could know that there was a change in my physical appearance (I was able to fix it that night, but I purposefully wore it so that the boy could feel guilty).

Anyway, so, when the time came, the teacher stayed in the class and I sat there talking to her about what happened. She obviously asked my about my sudden change in appearance and I "naturally" talked about the boy. She gave me some advice. After a few months, she made her own book club over the summer break, inviting the class. However, only a few came and I was among those few. When we were about to leave her house, she mentioned my glasses and asked if I was able to fix it and I said yes.

As you can see from this incident, teachers remember things. Even if it's not a big deal, you can tell them that you are stressed or you are struggling and unless they are a really bad person, they will want to help and they will remember you.

I hope this advice helps.

3 months ago

I am sure you have SOME adult who would be willing to provide you a letter of recommendation. I would recommend:

1. Teachers (preferably that like you or that you did well in their class)

2. Sunday school teachers

3. Adult family friends that have known you forever

4. Someone you did volunteer work with

5. Employer

6. Neighbor (that likes you)

For letters of recommendation for work, I have used a family friend, a person I did volunteer work with, and a Spanish teacher I had for two years. My sisters used their old employers, teachers, and Sunday school teachers for letters of recommendation for work and college.

Hope that helps!!!

3 months ago[edited]

Did you have any internships? You can ask your employer to write one for you if that's the case.

But I will suggest that you talk with the 'nicest' teacher in your school and ask her for a letter of recommendation. You can provide that teacher with stuff that you want them to say. For example- you can ask them to write about a specific goal that you accomplished or highlight specific qualities about you. If you were not highly annoying in the classroom and didn't burn down the school with your daddy, chances are that someone will be willing to write a LOR for you.

1 LOR from a teacher/school counselor is really important because colleges like to read about how you were inside the classroom. Some colleges actually have a mandatory requirement of a LOR from a school teacher. So better pick the nicest teacher in your school and ask her to write one for you.

LOR generally doesn't play a very big role in the admissions process so don't sweat too much even if the LOR is just average.

Also, you can ask one of your friends to write a LOR for you. A lot of people do that.

3 months ago

Ask a sibling or close family friend. If you're in clubs ask the advisor. What's the subject you had the most growth in? Ask that teacher!


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