The first question most students want to be answered is how many recs letters you will need. As each school has different requirements (and some require no rec letters) the answer to this great question is totally dependent on your college list. In general, however, the safest bet is to line up two teachers to write letters--one from math/science and one from history/english. If you are very active in a club, sport or job (paid or volunteer), you may want to ask for a third rec from that person. Any letters from non-academic contacts should be writing about a special talent/skill/trait that is important to your overall application message. Adding extra letters just for the sake of having more isn’t recommended.
Ok, you’ve got two teachers lined up to write amazing rec letters--great! But then what? When it’s time to get them sent to schools, where are teachers supposed to send them? Or upload them? The answer is that it depends on a few things, starting with which application you are using.
Schools will receive the recs online directly from the teacher. From the school-specific page, a student invites the teacher via the Common App and the teacher completes the rec online. If your school uses Naviance (and Common App knows which high schools do), then you do not need to do anything from the Common App side of things, as the teachers will upload via Naviance. Questions and issues concerning Naviance and the Common App should be directed to your school guidance counselor, who is the expert on this piece. If your school does NOT use Naviance, you can find answers to most questions about adding recommenders in Common App here.
Public colleges often do not have an online system, so you have to send those requested rec letters via mail. The student will give the teacher an addressed and stamped envelope for the teacher to send directly to the college's admission department. We recommend that you give the teacher all the envelopes he/she will need for rec letters at the same time.
Remember, you only need to use envelopes for colleges that don't use an online system.
Letters of recommendation for UT may be submitted via the Document Upload System (which you can access ONLY after submitting your application) or you may use the system to ask someone to submit their recommendation to them directly. Track upload status by logging in to the Document Upload System from your UT My Status portal. Again, you will receive an email with a link to this portal after submitting your application. A&M, UT Dallas and other Texas schools have similar online portals where students can upload rec letters--students should expect to receive an email after submission with details on how to access these portals and what items to upload.
In general, students never see their rec letters. These are private between the college and the teacher. One exception: Rec letters submitted to UT from students directly via the Document Upload System will be seen by students. UT also welcomes letters from teachers or other people who have worked with the student such as a coach, scout leader, or internship supervisor.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Students do NOT need to wait until rec letters have been submitted to hit “submit” on ApplyTexas or Common App—while teachers should be sure to submit everything before deadlines, there is no need for a student to wait. Once you are done with an application, submit it!