This is my third post addressing the college admissions process for introverts. The last two posts in this series addressed extracurricular activities and the admissions interview

Let’s now turn to the letter of recommendation. 

As an introvert myself, I’ve had to ask many people to write letters of recommendation for me when I applied to graduate schools, jobs, and other opportunities. And I believe that introverted students face particular challenges in thinking about letters of recommendation for their applications.

Consider two, specifically.

Challenge #1: Believing That Your Teacher Doesn’t Know You

Introverted students who are a bit quieter in the classroom may not be so inclined to talk or form close working relationships with teachers outside of the classroom. This is okay! 

What introverts (and all students, for that matter!) should do is choose teachers who know you as a student. Colleges want to know how students conduct themselves in the classroom beyond simply earning a particular grade, or how they might conduct themselves in extracurricular activities at school. 

If you are an introverted student and you work hard in a particular class, you may have faced challenges with a specific subject and worked hard to overcome those challenges. In that case, the teacher who teaches that class is an excellent candidate for you to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Many times introverted students tell me that they are at a total loss as to who they might ask for a letter of recommendation because they believe that their teachers really don’t know them. As an introvert myself, I’ve learned that this is likely not true. What you should be focusing on is what kind of student you are in their class. Even if you did not speak up often in class, it’s rare that a teacher doesn’t recognize you as a hard-working, conscientious student if you put in the effort.

Challenge #2: Being Nervous About Talking to Your Teacher

Another area of difficulty for introverted students is simply reaching out to ask teachers for the letter of recommendation. This is a very important first step, and you should not put it off to a later time in the application process. I recommend that all students reach out and verbally ask their teachers for letters of recommendation by the end of their junior year in high school. 

To put an introverted student who may be nervous about even asking a teacher at ease, I suggest using the following sentence: “I’m applying to college next year, and I would be so grateful if you would consider writing a letter of recommendation for me next school year.” That one sentence is all that you need. 

Most teachers are going to say, “Yes, I’d be happy to.” And if that’s the response you receive, then you have one more responsibility: 

Say, “Thank you.”

Aside from understanding how it feels to be an introvert, I have years of experience as an Independent Educational Consultant. If you would like to know more about how to navigate the college application process, please feel free to contact me. It would be my pleasure to help you make the most out of this special opportunity in your life.