Admissions

Can Shy Student Ask Counselor for Recommendation?

Question: I am currently a high school junior, but also I've been thinking about what it will be like for the recommendation letter from teacher when submitting the college application. I have no idea who should I ask when the time comes. Due to my personality I am really shy to ask the teacher for help. But it feels normal when I ask for homework problems. So I feel like I will disturb them. Fortunately my counselor seems more friendly. Is it possible to ask the counselor for the recommendation letter?

The vast majority of colleges require at least one teacher recommendation and, often two. Most selective schools want a counselor recommendation as well. You will not be able to substitute a counselor reference for a teacher reference, but if you feel that your counselor knows you better than any of your teachers do, you can always send a counselor reference as an extra, unsolicited letter to any college that does not require a recommendation from your counselor.


Choose a teacher (or teachers) who taught you a major subject in your junior or senior year. It's fine to pick someone who views you as a hard worker or a clever problem solver or an insightful writer, even if you didn't earn an A in the class.

You should also check out this earlier “Ask the Dean” column that offers some tips on how shy students should approach their teachers at recommendation time. https://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/must-give-teacher-resume-writes-recommendation/

Above all, keep in mind that you will not “disturb” your teachers by asking for a recommendation. Most teachers expect to write at least several (and, often dozens) every year, so just be sure to act appreciative when you make the request and then follow up with a thank-you note afterwards or even a little thank-you gift. (Stuck for an idea? Think chocolates or cookies, not “World’s Best Teacher” mugs!)