How To Get Great Letters of Recommendation

Who Should Recommend You?

Sometimes deciding who to ask to write your college recommendation letters can be hard. Figuring out who knows your talents and abilities the best, as well as your personality can be tough.

Simply put: choose adults who know you best. Teachers are the best resources to comment about your academic skills. Coaches, counselors, and community and church leaders are good sources to comment about your talents and skill sets outside of the classroom. These are the people who know you in ways the admissions officers don’t. They’ve seen you learn, they’ve seen you grow, and they’ve seen you succeed!

Be sure to read the requirements pertaining to recommendation letters, as some schools do require more than one letter of recommendation. And, never (under any circumstance) ask a family member to write your letter of recommendation for you, as their opinions will most often be biased.

Give Enough Time

Timing is everything when it comes to asking for a letter of recommendation. Give your writers plenty of time to develop their letters. They will need time to build up their ideas and write a thoughtful, meaningful letter.

Start a list at the beginning of your senior year of who you would ideally like to write a recommendation letter for you. Once you have your list narrowed down, give your chosen writers at least two months to prepare their letters. When asking for a letter of recommendation, give your writer some insight on the school you are applying to and let them know exactly why you want to attend that particular institution. Take it one step further and give your writer a brochure about the school so they can read up on the school in their spare time.

Make sure your writers have all of the materials they need in order to compose a recommendation letter, including:

  • Deadline information;
  • Your full name, address, e-mail, and telephone number;
  • Two copies of any forms they need to fill out (one copy to be used as a rough draft, and one to be used as a final draft);
  • The name and address of the institution you are applying to, along with a copy of your completed essay and application;
  • Provide a stamped, addressed envelope for their convenience;
  • Information about the school (e.g., brochure);
  • A copy of your resume, activities, accomplishments, and achievements.

Last Steps

If you are organized and prepared, you’ll make it a lot easier for writers to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf, and you’ll also make the process less hectic for yourself.  Always remember that your writers are doing you a favor, so show your gratitude by writing them a thank you note after the letter has been completed.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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