Tagged: high school resume

Tips On Getting Letters of Recommendation


All college applications request a letter from your guidance counselor and usually expect 1 or more teacher recommendations.  Your counselor is predetermined but you get to choose who will write the teacher recs.  Please read to the end of this post to learn what to do if you are asked to write your own recommendation.

1. Most schools prefer that students ask for recommendations at the end of junior year so that teachers can take time to write thoughtfully over the summer.  If you school has other policies, be certain to follow them.

2. Who should you choose?  Ideally, the persons you approach should know you well.  Perhaps you’ve taken  more than one class with a favorite teacher or one of your current teachers is the advisor for a club or organization you belong to.  The more interaction  you’ve had, the more detailed the letter from the teacher can be.

3. Its helpful to write a note asking for the recommendation and to present the note to the teacher during a free period, before or after school.  If you have copies of assignments from the class you took with this teacher, you could offer them along with the note, or continue the conversation by mentioning how much you enjoyed, or struggled, or learned from the work.

4. Also give the teacher a list of colleges to which you are applying.  Know if there are special requirements for submitting the letters via Naviance, if you high school uses this tool.  If the letters will be submitted by mail, attach any forms and addressed, stamped envelopes.

5. Before school begins for senior year, check with the guidance office to make certain that all recommendations have been turned in.  Then write a thank you note to each person who wrote a recommendation.

What Should You Do If Asked To Write Your Own Recommendation?

I’m learning that self-written letters are becoming a common practice, particularly at large high schools.  Unfortunately, many counselors don’t know all the students in their cohort and use the self-written recommendations as guides (or just turn in the student’s work).  If you are asked to write such a letter here’s what to do.

1. Special circumstances.   Counselor recommendations are used to explain circumstances not in evidence elsewhere in the documentation.  When a family experienced trauma, death, financial hardship, student academic problems, learning challenges or any other factor affecting the student’s performance, it is usually the counselor who offers the information.   If this applies to you, write this part of your story.  First, the circumstance (what happened); next, how you were affected; the current state of your recovery or accommodation.

For instance, in 11th grade you were found to have dyslexia; what treatment has occurred and how have your grades improved?  Ex 2, Your parents experienced a messy divorce and you were unable to focus on academics; what has changed and how are you coping?

2. Your Achievements.  Take out your resume and activity lists.  The format you should have used to create both is: List the organization, dates participated, what you did and how it benefited the club.  Ex. French Club, 3 years, As program chair started a French club at an elementary school; increased membership by 20%.  Ex. International Club, 3 years.  Facilitated the smooth running of meetings by setting up, arranging refreshments, cleaning up.

Don’t just copy your Resume or Activities List, choose a few items and amplify what you’ve written, including the importance to you of this activity or event, something you particularly enjoyed or learned, leadership role, how the experience might impact your college experience. Ex. Environmental Club.  I worked with local organizations and officials to clean up a trash from a creek.  I’ve learned about the world-wide clean water shortage and hope to take a trip to Africa where I can participate in a clean water project as well as taking courses in hydrologly in the geology department to learn more about water.

3. Executive functioning.  These skills include persistence, organization, time management, and so on.  You want to present the skills with supporting evidence. Ex. Persistent: failed 2 tests Algebra 2, got help from teacher and secured a tutor from National Honor Society.  Brought grade up to a C+.   If you are unclear on what to say, try asking teachers and classmates to describe you in 1 word, or in 3 words.  Use their comments to develop this section.

4. Goals.  What do you want to get out of your college experience?  Are you planning your coursework so you can study abroad?  Do you have plans to take specific courses to learn about a special interest?

When you’ve completed your recommendation, have several people you trust read it over.  Discuss it with your guidance counselor.

Asking for your letters of recommendation is good practice for getting a job.  You will need to know your strengths and who can best describe them to others.  Don’t gamble on getting winning testimonials, prepare the path for the people whom you will ask.  Be professional in your approach and show your appreciation generously.

Questions?  Call/text  me at 610-212-6679 or email stephanie@accessguidance.com


Your High School Resume Pumped To The Max

By the time you are ready to apply to college you need a resume.  Organizing and analyzing your experiences and accomplishments makes it easy to showcase your personality and your strengths.  Admissions officials read upwards of 1000 applications so you want to make lay out the good stuff for them.

Activities   Every application, including the Common Application, has a section for you to list the organizations and events you have been part of.  Start by making a list that includes the grades in which you participated, number of weeks per year and hours per week.  Add accomplishments.

Example 1: Catcher, HS Softball Team: 9-12; 15 weeks; 10 hours/week.  Our team went to the state championships 2 years.  Coaches saw me as a catalyst for team spirit and cohesiveness.  Mentored incoming freshmen girls.

Example 2: Cello, first Chair, in Youth Symphony; 9-12; 30 weeks; 6 hours/week.   Performed 10 times per year; Earned 10 solos in performances over 4 years.

Example 3: Committee for Junior Prom; worked on decorations 4 weeks; 5 hours/week; installed decoration on prom day for 4 hours. Arranged refreshments for 250 attendees 4 weeks; 2 hours/week.  Feedback from attendees was very positive.  Chosen to head Senior Prom Committee.

Example 4: A Letter From Santa: 11-12; 3 weeks/5 hours/week;  Organized youth group to read letters to Santa from children living in a shelter .Wrote back to children from Santa and helped arrange gifts from adults to children.

Use these notes to fill in the activities section on each application.  Prioritize your activities headed by the most meaningful to you or the ones that took the most time.

If you have extensive experience in music, sports, art, or coding, you will need a dedicated resume.  Other activities go into the Activities Box and the resume is uploaded elsewhere.

Many students have far more activities than there are spaces to put them directly on the application.  It is beneficial to have a resume hat includes all of your entries and more detail that can can be uploaded in an Additional Information section.

NB When uploading a resume into the Common Application Additional Information, the formatting disappears such that the entries run together as in a paragraph.

A new way to get information in front of the admission reader is using an app like ZeeMee.  This is a free program that allows you to upload photos, videos and documents.  You can put your resume here with attached pix or videos that illustrate the entries.  Its possible to insert a copy of a great speech you gave or paper you wrote.  You can provide the link to your ZeeMee account as one of your activities entries, put it in the additional information section or email the link to your admissions rep after submitting your application.

For help in choosing among the 3 resume formats or assistance writing your accomplishments resume, text or call Stephanie at 610-212-6679; email stephanie@accessguidance.com




Micro-Scholarships: What an Idea!

I’ve always believed that everything you do is a building block of what you will become. Someone with money for college students agrees with me!

Raise.Me asks high school students to keep a list of their grades, clubs, sports, all the activities they participate in starting in 9th grade. When submitted, for each they receive points that are redeemable for scholarships at participating colleges when they enroll.

Isn’t it wonderful to get a financial pat on the back for doing what you are doing anyway?

Here’s the website:https://www.raise.me/

Community Service Enhances Your Resume

Colleges and  businesses like to see leadership and  involvement on your resume.  Community service  brands a person as  caring, pro-active and committed.  Your efforts demonstrate one way in which you would be a member of the community created on the college campus or within a business.

Many  companies distinguish themselves  by advertising the donations they make to charities or the number of hours their interns and employees give to service projects.

Colleges also use service to brand themselves.  Penn State’s Thon is an example of service branding.

Plan A

The following link is to an article about Kiva.org and how it inspired a teacher and her students. Individuals, clubs and classes can organize a fundraiser to help.

Kiva makes micro-loans, as little as $25, that enable someone to go into business. In India a woman borrowed a few dollars to buy a cell phone that is the only one in her village. Her neighbors pay her a small fee for its use. She uses the money to send her children to school and to set up her mother in another business.

If leadership and community service aren’t already on your high school or professional resume, get a few friends together and start a Kiva project.

I know you’ll be glad you did.


Plan B

Are you a dog lover?

According to Best Friends Magazine, January, 2015,

WoofTrax has launched Walk Your Dog, a smartphone app that makes donations to shelters every time users walk their dogs.

Those who don’t have a dog can select Cassie, a virtual representation for dogs in shelters everywhere, as a walking companion.  According to WoofTrax website, more than 800,000 miles have been walked, benefitting 4,000 rescue groups and shelters.”

Helping others doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive.  You just need  passion and a little creativity.  Amaze yourself with what you can do.