Asking for a College Recommendation Letter
Recommendation letters are an important part of applications. This does not just apply to college applications, but grad schools and jobs as well! Finding the people in your life who can write quality, honest recommendations about you is the first important step. Today I want to share some tips with you on how to write an effective request for a recommendation letter.
It is important that you give the people you are asking time to write a quality recommendation letter. Many times, these people you are asking will be your teachers. Teachers have crazy schedules, and adding another task into that can be crazy. So, give them as much time as possible to put writing a recommendation into their schedule and actually get it done. I recommend asking for recommendation letters before you even start applying for schools. Get it out of the way and put the ball in their court so you can focus on writing killer essays and getting those acceptance letters.
How to ask
Many schools are using the common application now, and this makes requesting recommendations even easier. When I applied to schools via the common app, I believe I just had to put in the email and role of the person I was asking, and the request was sent to them. However, I did send follow-up emails to some of the professors, especially if I knew they were busy or might need a reminder to get it completed since they had so much going on.
If you are applying for a scholarship or school that does not use the common app, a brief email will do the trick. Always begin with a salutation and be straightforward with what you are asking. Keep it simple and respectful as well!
I am writing to ask if you would be willing to write a brief recommendation letter for my application to ___________(school or scholarship). The parameters for the recommendation are ____________. I would need this to be completed by __________(specific date, preferably earlier than when you actually need it so you can get it in on time). I appreciate and respect your opinions and words, and it would mean a lot to me if you could share them in this recommendation!
Close out your email respectfully and concisely. Most people don’t enjoy reading long emails, and teachers get a lot of them. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
Yes, the ball is now in the court of the recommender. But teachers are humans too (surprise!) and may forget things or get behind on tasks.
Reminding or following up is totally okay! Many people will be appreciative of the reminder. This is especially true if they have to keep track of lots of requests for recommendations! It is easy for these requests to get lost in their busy schedules. Teachers are often all asked around the same time to write lots of recommendations, and that is another reason why asking early is key. “Beat the crowds” as it were, especially with teachers who are known for writing great recs!
If you can, follow up your email in person. If your recommender is a teacher with hundreds of students, putting a face to the request can make it more memorable. This same principle goes for interviews and job applications as well! (Blog post idea to come?)
Good luck on all applications and getting those recommendations! Remember to choose recommenders who know you as a person and can attest to how amazing you are 🙂