Tips for Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Seniors of the world. This is the time. The time when you finally get to blossom out of your childhood shell and start taking steps into adulthood. For many of you, this time has been a whirlwind. You might have started a new part time job, gotten your own car, or enrolled in college credits. However you’re spending your time, these years will be held in your memory for many years to come. 

This is a very important transition in your lives. Especially those of you thinking about going to college. If college is on the brain, then you know how vital letters of recommendation are. No matter what school you hope to apply at, every college application is made stronger with these letters. So we compiled a list of tips that will help you in the process of attaining them. 

Choose the Right People

Letters of recommendation are a necessary part of any important application for a number of reasons. The most important of those reasons is because they showcase how well you have built your network in high school. Your network is the peers and colleagues you have gained in your formative years. This can be teachers, professors, counselors, or employers. In other words, people who have watched you work hard and seen the motivation you move through life with. Choosing the right people to write your recommendations is huge. 

Choose those you have known for several years and can speak to your accomplishments and character with accuracy. If those people hold important positions in educational settings, extra brownie points for you. These letters will notify college administrators of your work ethic, your drive, and your ability to succeed in the various ventures you pursue. So don’t simply ask a friend to write a nice letter about you. Ask a colleague or supervisor to write a letter describing the attributes you possess that make you a strong candidate for enrollment in your dream school. 

Choose the Right Discipline

As you know, college is the place where you get to branch out of the standard Gen Ed curriculum and onto more interesting subjects. You get to choose your own adventure and sign up for classes that feel meaningful to you or are aligned with your anticipated major. When choosing individuals to write your recommendations, go for those aligned with your subject area. If you plan to study biology in college, ask your biology teacher to write a letter. If your plans are to join the theater arts program, ask your most recent stage manager or director for a letter. Presenting letters that describe your achievement in your future area of study will surely strengthen your application. 

Provide All Necessary Information

The fatal flaw in requesting letters of recommendation is the failure to provide your authors with information about your academic career. Having written letters of recommendation in the past, I know how challenging it can be to write about a student when all your have available is their class schedule. When asking someone to write a letter of recommendation for you, be sure to provide any information that can help them map out an image of you. Provide your resume or CV. Give them access to your grades and test scores. If your have certifications of various sorts, provide those. Even giving your authors access to your extracurricular calendar can help them write a more encompassing letter. All of this information tells a story about you, a story that is only yours, so share it. 

Get the Ball Rolling Immediately

DO NOT WAIT TO ASK FOR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION. These letters take time and energy to write, and often the people writing them for you have very busy schedules. So jump the gun on these letters. Create a list of possible authors and send them emails or visit their offices to speak about your letters of recommendation. It would be smart to make folders for each author containing the information listed above so you’re prepared in the event they accept your request. Once you have your chosen authors, don’t forget about them and move on with your process. Follow up with them weekly or biweekly to check on the status of your recommendations.

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