Admission Tips from a UPenn Junior: How I Chose My Recommenders

November 11, 2013

Typically I am strongest in math and science subjects; those grades usually speak for themselves - I usually receive A’s in those subjects and I took my AP’s in the science, math and history courses.

I decided to ask the teachers from my weakest subjects. I anticipated that the colleges would see my transcript and this was an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. I asked my Latin and English teachers. My freshman year Latin grade was my lowest grade in high school. In senior year I received an A in Latin. I was able to demonstrate that I could face a challenge and succeed.  The other letter of recommendation came from an English teacher, again one of my weakest subjects. But I was able to finish in senior year with an A-.   While they were initially my weakest subjects, I was able to illustrate my ability to work hard and efficiently to reach a goal.  (Even if you don’t finish with an “A” range grade as long as you show significant improvement, I would recommend this strategy)

Both teachers were very happy to write a letter on my behalf and I discussed with them the issues I mentioned earlier and they both focused on the growth demonstrated from my hard work. I think seeing my determination to do better was very important to these teachers.

I asked them 8 weeks before I needed the letters. I wanted to make sure that I gave them enough time and was mindful and respectful of their time. They did not have to rush; they appreciated the extra time and prepared a strong letter.

They did not let me see the letters, nor did I not ask them. I wanted them to feel that if I asked them to write on my behalf that I trusted them to write favorable letters. When you ask someone to write a recommendation letter, you should at the very lease trust that they will write a letter highlighting your most positive characteristics.

- Drew (to receive a $10 credit use the referral code DREWB when signing up)

Browse Successful Application Files

Brown ‘23

Accepted to Brown, UMich, UT Austin

Artist, Writer, wannabe-philosopher
Stanford ‘19

Accepted to Stanford, MIT, GA Tech

STEM outreach enthusiast. Poet. Programmer. Advocate for women in STEM.
UPenn ‘24

Accepted to UPenn, Illinois, UMich

lover of the Bachelor, avocadoes, hikes, and rewatching Harry Potter for the 1000th time.
Brown ‘21

Accepted to Brown, Vanderbilt, Smith, Harvey Mudd, Washington, UC Berkeley, Duke, UCLA, Swarthmore

I'm a daydreamer passionate about societal transformation... who also happens to spend way too much time watching makeup tutorials.

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