Do College Recommendation Letters Have to be from Teachers?

College admissions counselors want to learn more about you through recommendation letters. Typically, you send in two recommendation letters with your application. I’m often asked by students if those letters must be from teachers. Ideally, yes, the first two recommendation letters should be from teachers from 10th or 11th grade from your core courses, with at least one being from 11th grade, if possible.

What If You Can’t Ask Two Teachers from those Grades?

Sometimes it is not possible to obtain two letters from teachers from your sophomore and junior year. Each student’s circumstances are unique. What’s important is that you ask teachers who know you and can write about you as a student. The whole point is for these letters to shed light on how you are as a student and person. College admissions officers want to get a feel as to whether you would be a good fit for their school.

Can You Submit Recommendation Letters from Non-Teachers?

You can definitely submit additional recommendation letters from people who were not your teacher in school. For example, if you are applying for a fine arts major, you may want to (And may be required to) also submit letters from your art teacher, voice teacher or piano teacher. If you are involved in scouts, you may want to submit a letter from your scout leader, or if you are active in your church’s youth group you may want to submit a recommendation from that leader. Just keep in mind that recommendations from these individuals should be in addition to the two letters you are getting from your core teachers, they should not replace either or both of them, and they should be from someone who knows you well and over the course of time.

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Read What to Do as a Junior to Prepare for College to learn when to ask for Letters of Recommendation