How To Get A Personalized Recommendation Letter You Can Be Proud Of

It’s one of the age old questions – how can you make yourself stand out to a college admissions office or scholarship board? A personalized letter or recommendation is a great way to show the people in charge of your future that you’re willing to go the extra mile. And sometimes they’re required when applying to a university, program, or scholarship competition.

But how can you get a great recommendation letter from teachers, coaches, or employers? Approaching someone for a favor such as this might feel awkward, especially someone who is a respected authority figure to you. You don’t want to burden them, but at the same time, a letter such as this will make an invaluable addition to your portfolio.

Well, have no fear. Teachers, counselors, coaches, and the like are used to being asked for materials such as these. However, there are some things you can do to make the job easier on them, and enhance your chances of getting a really great letter. But don’t be too disheartened if they say no – it’s nothing personal, they just might be too busy to dedicate the proper time to the project at the moment.

1. Ask a person who knows you well

One thing to keep in mind is that you should always try to ask a person who knows you well. Your favorite teacher whom you’ve had for three years, or the softball coach you’ve known since Little League are great bets, but chances are the principal of your school isn’t going to have time or enough information about you to properly write a letter of recommendation (this is just an example of course – perhaps you are on very good terms with your principal). And that’s not to say that a teacher you’ve only known for a year would be a bad choice, just as long as you feel close enough to the person that you think they would be able to write a thoughtful message about you.

2. Tell them exactly what the letter is for

Be certain to tell the person you ask for a letter exactly what the letter is for. Better yet, type up a sheet detailing where it will be going, what they need to do with it when they’ve written the letter, and why it’s important, along with any other information they may need to know about it. They’ll appreciate knowing where their good word are going, and explaining everything to them shows the person that you’ve got everything together and are a responsible, trustworthy individual.

3. Provide him/her with additional information about you

Beside that, it’s generally a good idea to provide the author of the prospective letter with an information sheet about you. Because while you’re on good terms with them, and they may be able to vouch for your awesome grades and enthusiasm in class, they might not know about your induction into the National Honors Society or your perfect score at the game last night. Type up about a sheet of information you deem appropriate – your GPA, any academic honors, any extracurricular activities, awards, anything like that – and give it to them along with the information about the letter.


Thank you goes a long way! Don’t forget to thank them for a job well done. They chose to take time out of their busy schedules to write this letter for you because they believe in you and want to invest in your future. The least you could do is jot a quick (but heartfelt!) thank you note and stick it in their mail box. You’d be surprised to know how much that would mean to them, and is a great way to build your personal and professional relationship with the individual as well.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have a great and really personalized letter of recommendation to add to your admission materials in no time, so they can see exactly what a fantastic person you are!

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Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson is a freshman at Central Michigan University, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Elizabeth is a member of the CMU Honors Program, and is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life, the student run campus newspaper. When she’s not in school, she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching movies, and enjoys traveling and performing in plays.
Elizabeth Benson

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