How NOT to Get a College Rec

College is in, desperation is out: here’s what you should NOT say to any teacher you hope to garner respect, or more importantly—you selfish student—a rec from.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Christina Chen

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: college recs season. The time when one adult could make or break your entire application. As Einstein once said, “No biggie.” However, we at Spec Humor got you. Here are some of the worst rookie mistakes you can make when asking for a teacher’s recommendation letter, so make sure to avoid them at all costs!

  • “Hi Principal Yu!”

Nope. Turn around. Try again, try hard. Do I have to explain this one? Seung Yu is not going to write you a golden ticket to Harvard. He has better things to do, like keeping the school (somewhat) afloat and prepping for next year’s SING! takeover (meta Spec Humor wink).

  • “Nice to meet you!”

If you don’t know any of your teachers well, do NOT rub that newness factor in! If anything, gaslight them. Pretend you’ve been speaking to them every single day since the fall semester. When they don’t remember you, be more persistent. Come up with fake but convincing stories. You might be able to “gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss” your way into college!

  • “*slides you 20 bucks*”

Fun meme. Bad practice. Most teachers are still coming around to the idea of adding an unnecessary but adorable space before exclamation marks (so cute !), and you think a roleplay-styled action cue will sit well with them? Also, if nothing else, please up the price. Twenty bucks is nowhere near enough for the raw emotional damage and utter lack of pay these people put up with when dealing with YOU all day. It also shows that you know nothing about inflation and the economy, which just makes you look uninformed—and if your chosen teacher is Mr. Peng, this is a double sin.

  • “Facebook was so wrong about you!”

First off, ouch. Second, you’re literally inviting your teacher to stalk your Facebook account! Come on! Think about everything you’ve asked in the Incoming… groups since freshman year. Every absence post. Every tag. Then multiply that boomer cringe tenfold and ship it off to the person who will be writing your recommendation—this will only go horribly. Do you want them to see the minion memes you liked as a freshman when they’re writing a life-saving rec for you? Nuh-uh.

  • “I know you’ve seen me cry over this class, but…”

We’ve all been there, but here’s a word of advice: if you’re going to cry in class, then own it. Drop the “but” and add a “so.” You’re a crier BECAUSE you are a good student who cares about your grades. You sob FOR your education. You shed tears last week during fourth period not because you can’t handle a challenge, but because your teacher’s lesson was so incredibly moving that you couldn’t help but get emotional over converging lenses. Spin the sad, sad weeping into a personal statement of its own. Some call this emotional manipulation, but we call it rebranding!

  • “As a member of this school, I think I’m pretty smart.”

Woah! You’re too high up on your high horse, Karen. You’re not the first kid to have been forced into SHSAT prep, and as long as Kweller Prep continues to sponsor this paper, you certainly will not be the last. Major eye roll, L rec. Stuyvesant students have earned the title of being just as stupid as everyone else a thousand times over.

  • “My dog died when I was eight years old, and I really haven’t recovered.”

This is not the sympathy-garnering sob story you think it is. Eight-year-olds have hearts of steel, which you’d know if you’d ever been insulted by one (my ego has never been the same). More importantly, if this impedes your high school success and you have to capitalize on it just to get one teacher to tolerate you enough to write a rec, you’ve already lost. Also, if this was your first tactic, you would probably also manipulate your girlfriend (if you could pull one, that is). Red flag, and once again, L rec.

  • “Please. You’re my last hope.”

Not bad, but SO CLICHE! There are more creative ways to express your pain. If this is your idea of a compelling origin story, it is likely that even your therapist finds your problems unoriginal. Alternatives include: “You are a beacon of light in this storm of crumbling educative assistance,” “If you were to say yes you would be my personal god and I would design a cult of personality for you accordingly,” or “You are definitely, one hundo percent the one and only and first and primary and very very earliest teacher I have e-mailed.” Just don’t sign that last one off with the wrong class title.

Badabing, badaboom. Do not do any of these things, though let’s be honest: your teachers have already cemented an opinion of you thus far. This is just the icing on what could be a crumbling, battered cake. As a final note, always thank your teachers for taking the time to write about you, an insignificant speck in the grand scheme of the universe. And thank the kids who did all of these things so we could help you learn from their mistakes.

Or rather, a single kid who did all of these things for one letter. Dude’s had it rough.