Career ExplorationPreparing for College
Etiquette in Asking for Letters of Recommendation
Private colleges and universities often require letters of recommendations from their freshmen applicants. Most will ask for two letters of recommendation and a school report. The school report is completed by a counselor or an administrator. This report takes a more global view of you as a student and requires not just the report
form but also a letter. The letters of recommendation will come from, depending on the school, either 1-2 teachers and/or community members. These letters are written from the point of view of you as a student in that particular class or activity.
When choosing who you would like to write your letters, focus on those individuals that know you the best. You may not have earned the best grade in the class but maybe that teacher knows a lot about you personally or about your love of that subject. If the recommender does not know a lot about you, make it your job to let that person know why you are choosing that college or that major. The more information you provide, the better your letter will be.
That said here are some points of etiquette when asking for a Letter of Recommendation for College.
1. Ask nicely.
Politeness goes a long way. If you are rude or demanding, it might be reflected in the final product. Do not assume that someone will write you a recommendation without first asking. This means asking your teacher or counselor prior to listing their name on the Common Application.
2. Provide your letter writer with all of the appropriate information required
All of this information should be provided in an organized, neat fashion. Your letter writer should not have to print out forms, look up addresses, or provide postage.
If using the Common Application, your recommender has the option of completing an online recommendation or a paper recommendation. If they choose to use the paper recommendation, you will need to provide the appropriate forms, including any supplement pages. If they chose to use the online recommendation, it is your responsibility to make sure that they have received the link to your account. The
district computers have very strong filters which block many messages.
3. You should allow your letter writer at least 3 weeks to complete your letter. This time does not include weekends or vacations. Remember that you may have the two weeks of winter break to work on your applications but your letter writer is on vacation and may not have the opportunity to complete your letter.
4. Remember that it takes time to write letters of recommendation.
Only ask for letters for schools that you are going to apply to. If you ask for a letter of recommendation and then change your mind, inform your letter writer. It saves time and embarrassment when the colleges call because they have received a
letter of recommendation but no application.
5. Say “thank you”.
Thank you’s are always appreciated. Many schools have policies where teachers or
counselors do not write letters of recommendations thus putting students at a disadvantage when it comes to college applications. Many counselors/teachers will spend hours of their own time outside of the school day writing your letters. Always thank your letter writer for taking the time and effort on your behalf.
6. Keep in touch with your letter writer.
They would love to hear which schools you got into!