A very important component of many college applications is submission of recommendation letters. Because most colleges no longer interview candidates, the only means they have of viewing a student as something other than a set of statistics are the college essays and the recommendation letters. These help give insight into the applicant as a real person.
An effective letter of recommendation helps the admissions staff at a college to see the applicant as a unique, hard-working individual who would be an asset to that program. It addresses character and personality instead of grades. Some colleges ask for recommendations from specific people (a counselor, an English teacher, etc.). Others leave it up to the candidate to choose from whom they wish to get a recommendation (an educator, a minister, an employer, a Scout leader, etc.) These days many colleges do not require recommendations although they make the recommendations optional. Take note: at Banff we believe that these are NOT optional! Your teachers and staff here know you very well and can truly add value to your application if you are a good student and a kind person!
Recommendations should be honest evaluations, so it would not be in your best interest to ask for a recommendation from anyone with whom you have or have had
issues. Choose people with whom you have a good working relationship. Give the person ample time to write a good letter; one done under last-minute pressure may not be the best reflection of who you are! Allow at least two weeks for someone to write a recommendation, and make sure that person is aware of and can meet your expected time line. If feasible, ask for recommendation letters early in the fall semester of your senior year so that they will be available whenever you are ready to send in an application for a college or a scholarship.
Print and fill out the form asking for a recommendation, which can be found on this website. Make several copies and distribute them to the people from who you wish to request recommendation letters. Ask if each person if you may check in with him or her in two weeks to see if he/she has been able to complete the recommendation; some sweet and gentle nagging might be in order because people are well-intentioned but very busy! As an alternative, you may ask the staff in the office if the expected letters have been turned in there. Please note that ALL letters of recommendation should be sent to the office; students should NEVER have the recommendation letters in their possession as this would call into question the validity and honesty of the assessment. The office staff will get the letters to the appropriate admissions/financial offices based upon your request.