Letters of recommendation are an important part of the college application process. It reveals something important about you that your grades and test scores can’t. Take these letters very seriously. Below are some tips to help you get started. The most important thing to remember is to ask early and don’t procrastinate!
Tip 1: Ask someone who knows you well
Make sure you choose a person carefully. Think of teachers or people who are most familiar with your work and achievements. The better the writer knows you, the easier it will be for him or her to write a letter for you. Admission counselors look for evidence of the letter writer’s familiarity with your work. Without it, letters of recommendation lack credibility.
Tip 2: Ask early
Don’t wait until the last minute. Teachers are bombarded with college letter of recommendations at the end of the semester and you don’t want your letter to suffer as a result. Give your teachers as much time as possible to avoid putting extra stress on them. It will also give them more time to think about what they want to write about you. As the deadline approaches, send them a friendly reminder.
Tip 3: Ask personally
When seeking a letter of recommendation, don’t send an email or leave a voicemail. Ask them face to face. This shows the person just how important this letter is to you.
Tip 4: Provide all necessary materials
Along with your letter of recommendation form, make sure to include past accomplishments, a resume, and your plans for college and the future. This type of information will give your teacher a starting point and refresh their memory about you. If you are asking for multiple letters, it’s a good idea to organize all the forms in one folder and include a cover sheet with a list of schools for which you are applying for and the deadlines. Always provide pre-addressed and stamped envelopes they can use to mail in their recommendation. Some applications require the instructor to return the letter to you in a sealed envelope. Ask the writer to sign the flap of the envelope.
Tip 5: Waive your right to read the letter
Federal law grants you access to your letters of recommendation, but many applications include a form where you can waive your rights to read the letter. We highly recommend that you do so. Admission officers will trust them more if you haven’t seen them.
Tip 6: Send a thank you note
Always send your writer a thank you note after the letter has been sent out, whether or not you have heard from the school. Don’t wait too long to do this: a week or two is a good timeframe.