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Articles / Applying to College / How to Request Letters of Recommendation

How to Request Letters of Recommendation

Written by ACT | Nov. 1, 2021
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4 Things To Do When Asking for a Recommendation For College

The goal of a college recommendation letter is to humanize you; give the admissions committee a better idea of who you as a person and a student, and to tell a bit about your character. 

When asking a teacher, coach, or mentor for a recommendation, there are four things you should always do.

How to Ask for Recommendation Letters

  1. Ask someone who knows you well.
  2. Give your recommender plenty of time.
  3. Make it easy on your recommender.
  4. Follow up and send a thank you.

Ask someone who knows you well

The recommender should be able to speak to your personality and give insight into who you are beyond your grades. Ask someone who you interact with regularly, like a teacher, counselor, employer, or community leader.

Give your recommender plenty of time

Try not to wait until the last minute to ask for a letter of recommendation—give your recommender at least a month to write a letter. Many teachers and coaches have to write letters of rec for a large number of students, so if possible, give them six to eight weeks notice.

Make it easy on your recommender

After you’ve asked for a letter of recommendation, give that individual all the necessary details.

Be sure your recommenders know:

  1. What the letter is for (university application, job, scholarship) 
  2. Who to address the letter to 
  3. Submission requirements including deadline and desired format 

You may also want to include materials they need to “brag” about you. You can give your recommender a note that include relevant information that will help them write the letter.

Make sure your recommenders are clear on your:

  1. Future aspirations and goals 
  2. Intended major and why you’re choosing it 
  3. Awards, honors, or accomplishments 
  4. Relevant extracurricular activities 

These materials will help your recommender stay focused on key topics while including personal anecdotes.

Follow up and send a thank you

As the application deadline approaches, it’s a good idea to contact your recommenders and politely remind them to submit their letters. After you have confirmation that they submitted your letter, write a card thanking them for their time and dedication to helping you achieve your goals. And when you hear back from schools, be sure to keep your recommenders updated and thank them again.

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