Students at the top of one or more of their classes should ask those teachers who have expressed a genuine interest in their futures, to write a great LOR. A warning bell should go off however, if any teacher balks, is the least bit hesitant or shows no enthusiasm at the prospect of writing one. As a less than exemplary LOR is virtually worthless, only motivated, enthusiastic teachers should be approached. All others should be tactfully avoided.
Other than those requested by the school, additional LOR's are also recommended. Send no more than two, unless a third is absolutely extraordinary.
The following are excellent choices for additional LOR's:
(1) A college professor, (2) a high ranking military officer, (3) a member of the clergy, (4) the chairman or other officer of a major corporation, (5) a member of a volunteer organization where the student worked, (6) a parent of a handicapped student from volunteer work, i.e. Special Olympics, and, (7) a parent whose child the student tutored.
If the student is an athlete, any teacher is preferable to a coach unless they also teach a core subject such as English, Chemistry, History, or Math. The student should anticipate and be prepared for some teachers actually asking for an outline of what they should write. It is here that a resume would be most helpful. Give them one. (Your student has a resume, don't they?) And, if they meet the above criteria, I strongly suggest obtaining an LOR from a relative with a different last name.
LOR's written in languages other than English, should have the translation attached with a preface stating, "For your convenience, the following is the English translation of the attached letter."
Guidance counselors submit all LOR's originating from high school. Students must be cautioned not to submit any sealed or unsealed LOR's they obtain on their own or outside of school. An LOR from someone other than a teacher or guidance counselor should be sent by the person who wrote it not the student, and should be addressed as follows:
[Name of College]
[Director of Admissions]
[Attn: Director's name personalize it]
[Street or P.O. Box]
[City, State, Zip, Zip+4 if available]
RE: Student's Name
Follow these instructions and your student will surely gain that all-important edge in the admissions game. And be sure not to make the fatal error of assuming that your valedictorian is guaranteed admission at their college of choice! You must never lose sight of the fact that in today's intensely competitive quest for an admission ticket, even the brightest students must put into play every card that strengthens their hand. In the admissions process, there is no such thing as shining too brightly!