How to Properly Ask for a College Letter of Recommendation

Here are some tips on how to get the letters of recommendation you need to be accepted:

  • Ask a month or more before the due date of the letter, because some may have other responsibilities and may not be able to write the letter right away.

  • Ask someone with a strong relationship with you: maybe you have taken multiple classes with them, or have talked to them outside of the classroom. They may know more about you than the average teacher.  It does not have to be teacher, but some private or honors colleges may require them to be.

  • Be prepared with a written statement outlining what you need and expect in the letter.

    • First thank the writer; express gratitude for their time and effort.  

    • Include an introduction with who it's for and why it needs to be written; if there are multiple locations, include all the schools you are applying to.

    • Then connect to who you are asking by putting into words that their relationship means something to you, perhaps mention the classes you had with them and what you were taught.

    • The main part of the written statement should be what you want written in the letter of recommendation. Along with attaching an updated resume, include any activities, awards, work shadows, projects, volunteering, or academic programs that you believe will benefit your application by mentioning. Indicate years or dates if they are important to the activity.

    • Then explain what you plan on majoring in, what a possible career may be, and how they will be benefiting your academic path.

    • Attach other technicalities regarding letters of recommendations, such as dates and addresses they must be sent by and to, in a clear fashion.  Possibly a bolded, chronological chart, if you need the letter to be sent to more than one school.

  • Follow up with the person writing your letter of recommendation, especially if the due date is around the corner and your college portal shows that it has not been sent.

  • Thank the author verbally as soon as it is sent, maintain the relationship.

  • Once you have been accepted or received scholarships, formally thank the author by email or card, you may express your gratitude for their part in your acceptance and what money you received.