How to: Letters of Recommendation
What is a letter of recommendation? Letters of recommendation are one-page letters written for private schools and scholarships. These letters describe your qualities, skills, experiences and accomplishments. They also explain any challenging circumstances that may affect your academic performance or ability to attend/pay for college.
Who should write it? Ask an adult (NOT a family member) who knows you well!
This could be:
- an academic teacher
- a coach
- a mentor
- your supervisor from a job, internship or volunteering
- the teacher who you T.A. for
- a church leader
- a counselor
How do I get a letter of recommendation?
1.) You need to fill out a senior profile and letter of recommendation form to provide your recommender with a thorough overview of your interests and accomplishments. Think about each response, don't just write whatever! The more detailed you are, the better the letter will be.
2.) Make a list of people who you want to ask to write the letter. Choose 3 people who know you in a unique way. For example:
- your science teacher would be appropriate to ask for a recommendation if you are going to a college to study science, medicine or health.
- your coach will be able to discuss how you behave in practice and how you work as a team.
- your counselor might be able to describe your personality AND your academic record.
- your supervisor could describe your job skills and professionalism.
3.) Make an appointment to have a conversation with your recommender to share anything that's happening in your life that may have affected your grades/academic performance. Do you have something going on in your family? Do you have to work to support yourself? Is there something that is making school challenging for you? Do you have a particular financial situation? Let the recommender know your circumstances so they can communicate it in the letter.
4.) ASK THE RECOMMENDER AT LEAST 3 WEEKS IN ADVANCE. This is so important. Writing these letters is time-consuming!
5.) Follow-up. Remind your recommenders (in a friendly and appreciative way) of due dates. It is YOUR responsibility to meet deadlines.
6.) Get a copy of your letter of recommendation. This can be a digital PDF file or a hard copy.
7.) SEND A THANK YOU. This could be a hand-written card or a token of your appreciation. When a student goes out of their way to thank me, I am always willing to help them in the future!