Asking for letters of recommendation for college applications and scholarships is a crucial part of the admissions process. These letters provide insight into your character, abilities, and potential, helping admissions committees and scholarship organizations make informed decisions. Here are the steps students should take to request strong letters of recommendation:
Initiate your request in person or via email. It's advisable to approach your teacher(s) or counselor at least three weeks before your earliest application deadline. You can even consider making this request towards the end of your junior year to ensure preparedness.
After securing their agreement, promptly send an email expressing your gratitude for their willingness to write your letter. In this message, kindly inform them of the first application deadline.
In your application, include each recommender's contact information within the designated Recommender section. This step enables them to receive a submission link for the letter.
Share your request form or "brag sheet" with your teacher(s) and counselor at least two weeks ahead of the earliest application deadline. Provide as much information as possible that you believe will assist them in composing a compelling letter of recommendation.
Monitor your online application to track the submission status of the teacher's letter. If you notice that it hasn't been submitted, consider sending a courteous reminder email a few days to one week before the due date.
Once the letter of recommendation has been successfully submitted, make sure to convey your appreciation with a thank-you note. An email expressing your gratitude is perfectly acceptable and greatly appreciated.
Who should I approach for a letter of recommendation?
Counselor: Some schools require a letter from your counselor, while others provide you with the option. Your counselor can offer valuable context about your school program, course choices, and your academic background.
Teachers: Ensure you obtain the requisite number of letters as specified by the schools you're applying to. Select teachers who are familiar with your work and can provide a positive recommendation. It's a good practice to have a conversation with them to gauge the type of letter they intend to write. Opt for teachers from different subjects, and if your major choice is specific, consider teachers from related subjects. Include at least one teacher who can speak to your writing and critical thinking skills. Aim to ask a teacher from 11th or 12th grade who can attest to your performance in a higher-level course.
Others: Some schools permit additional letters of recommendation, which can come from club advisors, coaches, religious leaders, mentors, or other relevant figures in your life. If you believe these individuals can add value to your application, don't hesitate to ask.
When is the right time to request a letter of recommendation?
You can approach a teacher at the end of your junior year if you plan to request a letter from a junior year teacher. Inform them about your intention to apply to private colleges and scholarships in the fall, allowing them the option to work on the letter during the summer. Follow up at the beginning of your senior year, providing an updated brag sheet that lists the schools and scholarships you're targeting.
Alternatively, you can make the request at the start of your senior year.
What should I include in my Letter of Recommendation Request Form (Brag Sheet)?
Include as much pertinent information as possible to assist your counselor or teacher in crafting a compelling letter. For teachers, especially, provide specific examples in Question 6 of the Brag Sheet, such as instances where they praised your presentation, highlighted your exceptional projects, or acknowledged your contributions to helping classmates understand a subject.
Should I waive my rights to see the Letter of Recommendation?