College Admissions

How to Ask for Recommendation Letters for College Applications

When applying for jobs, college admissions, and scholarships, you might be wondering, “How do I ask for recommendation letters?” You often need to provide the employer or school with letters written on your behalf, preferably from teachers or people in supervisory roles. These letters should speak to your abilities, character, and goals. It’s important to know there are right and wrong ways to request recommendations. Here are a few things to keep in mind when asking for recommendation letters.

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  1. Ask in a professional way. Remember, you want to present yourself as a person who deserves a terrific recommendation. Email is often the easiest way to request a letter, but be sure to write it in a formal way (have someone look over it if grammar isn’t a strength of yours). Provide all the necessary details like the deadline, the point of contact, and, if it’s a job application, the job description.

  1. Recommendation letters take time. Be sure to request a letter (at the very least) two weeks before the application due date. These things shouldn’t be rushed.

  1. Ask a variety of people who know you in different roles. Often two or three letters are needed. It’s always a good idea to ask people who know you in different ways and can speak to your different skills. For example, a previous employer can talk about your work ethic; a teacher can describe your outstanding public speaking skills; and a family friend can discuss your friendly disposition.

  1. If the letter is to be mailed, give the person a stamped envelope with the return address written on it. Go out of your way to make the process easier for the letter writer. It’ll be much appreciated.

  1. Provide the person writing the letter with as much information as possible. Information about hobbies, goals, and extracurricular activities can mean the difference between a standard letter and a standout one. If you have one, include your resume with the letter packet (or email them a copy).

Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in need of recommendation letters. Keep these tips in mind, and the glowing letters will just roll in!


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