Recommendation letter editing
Get help from the Ivy League editors

How To Ask For a Letter Of Recommendation for College?

Professional recommendations from the Ivy League Editors
College EssayEdge Recommendation Letter
Updated: February 6, 2023

While not all higher-educational institutions require students to have recommendations, those that do provide a unique chance for the applicant to showcase their unique character. In fact, most institutions consider a letter of recommendation as important as grades and other relevant standardized examination scores.

students who must send it yet are encountering it for the first time may have several questions, including how to write it, how many pages it should cover, what it should contain, how to ask for a college recommendation letter, and who to ask. Use this post to know the ideal way to craft a compelling recommendation and how a student should ask the appropriate person to compose it.

College Recommendation Letters: Definition and What It Contains

These are short personalized documents that present a better in-depth description of the applicant and who they are as an individual. It puts the application in context and explains to the admission more regarding your scholastic accomplishment, passion, strengths, and positive personal character traits.

A well-composed document enhances your application and increases the odds of receiving an admission letter. Thus it should look like a formal professional document that gives an honest view of the applicant while showcasing your best qualities and character. Recommendations are often requested in graduate schools and some undergraduate courses.

How and Who to Ask For a Recommendation

You might know yourself best, but colleges need a third-party observer to comment on who you are. Therefore, a college recommendation letter request should come from your previous educators, academic advisors, school counselor, or project supervisors. The ideal person to ask would be someone who has been part of your academic journey and can accurately describe your personality, strengths, and passions.

The right person should know the applicant’s best strengths and personality, like a high school professor that you did exceptionally well in their subject. Students should establish solid connections with several teachers in high school because most colleges require the recommendation to come from two different individuals. This makes it more comfortable to request the top people you feel will be willing to pen down a good composition highlighting only amazing things about you.

But is there an appropriate time to ask a competent person to compose the recommendation? Of course. Ideally, it would be perfect to ask weeks before the deadline set by the institution. This is to give ample time to the recommender to craft a splendid document that will surely make a lasting first impression on the admission board or reader.

The rule of thumb is to make your request two months before the due date for college application and inquire again a month before the deadline. That way, you can have the letter at least a week before sending it.

The Right Way to Request a Superb Recommendation

The correct way to request someone to write the formal document is in person. That way, the chosen competent recommender will have received a verbal request from you and have an opportunity to ask any questions or discuss any specifics such as the expected due date and college choices.

However, when approaching the recommender, college applicants should have written down all the relevant details such as accomplishments, goals, and the major they intend to pursue if accepted. This is to ensure the chosen recommender has all the information they will require to craft an impressive letter on your behalf.

Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:

Recommendation Letter Editing
Each document has its features, and our editors know what to focus on to keep it individual and increase your chances of being admitted
Premier Package
Editing files from draft to final application. 1.5 hours of phone consultations. 14 days of email interaction with an editor

You can also send your request via email. Sometimes the recommender might be so busy that they fail to read their email on time. That is why you should first start with a face-to-face meeting then follow it up with a formal email. For the written request, state the college you intend to send the application to and the course.

Don’t forget to say how you’d appreciate or would be honored if that specific person wrote the formal document. Include these crucial details in the email:

  • A respectful greeting and closing.
  • Formal and professional introduction.
  • Why you choose that specific teacher, mentor, advisor, or person.
  • The expected deadline.

Even when you send the offer to a favorite professor, compose the email professionally. This proves the student is not demanding that the recommender compose the letter on their behalf.

Recommendation Letters: The Correct Way to Compose it with No Experience

Structure the content to have a clear introduction, body content with examples, and a solid closing. In the body section, mention the learners’ academic achievements and relevant personality traits. For example, instead of saying the young scholar has notable research skills use a successful project where they showcased their abilities. Finally, summarize why you would recommend that particular learner.

Great letters of recommendation have three things in common:

  1. They convince the admissions that a particular young scholar is a perfect fit for that college.
  2. Shows that the learner will benefit from the college community.
  3. Demonstrates that the applicant will excel in university and eventually in their career.

The ultimate goal of the document is to prove to the reader that you have a high chance of excelling in both university and your career by attending that specific institution. Therefore, even it should be short, detailed, specific, and not miss out on crucial details. When writing the recommendation:

  • Address it to a specific person.
  • Ensure each paragraph talks about one specific thing.
  • Add specific examples to prove the way the young scholar embodies the achievements or strengths you’ve specified.
  • Explain briefly how the learner fits into the college.
  • Include your contact information in case they decide to follow up.

Instead of paraphrasing the student’s academic accomplishments and talking about their grades, add unique information not available in other parts of the application. Give real depth to the candidate and use several examples to provide a clear impression of the candidate. For example, you can say, “her work as a high school journalist helped to put a spot light on minority student who needed financial aid.”

Key Elements to Include

Knowing the key elements that have been included and resulted in success, a student shall understand how to ask for a college letter of recommendation and the right person to ask. The top three features of great letters of recommendation are:

  1. Personal attributes
  2. Scholastic achievements
  3. Several specific but relevant examples that paint a vivid picture

These elements should be communicated in bit-sized simple manner while showcasing your uniqueness. The admission will use your previous academic success to predict your future academic success in that college. Furthermore, some examples of personality traits that will impress the board include:

  • Leadership
  • Ambition
  • Confidence
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy

Even when mentioning a particular skill, support the statement with relevant evidence. The skills to include must also relate to the learner’s ability to thrive in that particular college.

The Correct Way to Start a Reference Letter

Colleges receive numerous applications each year, and those that get accepted have strong opening sentences. The first few sentences should give an honest impression, and the crucial information be weaved into a fascinating story that captures the reader from the word go. In the first paragraph, add the official name of the student and the major they want. The recommender should also state how they know the individual and the duration.

The Right Way to Title the Document

The title in any recommendation should be your current job title as it shows the credentials you bring. It also helps the admission gauge how much weight to place on the information you have included in the letter.

The Concluding Paragraph

Add a powerful closing statement that vouches for the young scholar and restates why they would be an ideal fit and asset to the institute. Keep the paragraph short. This is then followed by a closing phrase containing your name, contact details, and signature.

How Long It Should Be

How many words should recommendation letters have? As aforementioned, college recommendation letters tend to be short, 400 words, yet sing the individual’s praises and convince the reader that the applicant is worth receiving the admission letter. Even when you have so much to say about the student, don’t compose a long document. Keep it within three to five short paragraphs. Go further and check the school website to determine if there are specific instructions on how long the document should be.

Formatting Guidelines and Font

Letters of recommendation utilize a font type and size that makes the content easier to digest. General formatting guidelines are also applied. This includes using a professional font style such as Times New Roman, setting the margins to one inch, and single spacing the document. It’s always best to check the formatting guidelines accepted in a specific college. That way, you can ensure the correct format and tone are applied throughout the document.

Requesting for formal documents will be simple as long as you have a strong relationship with the recommender. However, it’s ideal to request from an individual who can clearly vouch for your educational qualifications and personality. When it comes to the writing part, by using this post as a guide, even when a recommenders have no experience, they will be able to craft content that meets the current standards in education.

Stop perceiving a letter of recommendation as a problem. Change your worldview: this paper is your chance to share another person’s meaning with the admissions board. No matter who will write this letter: you two should take care of the content of the recommendation. In case none of you has an aptitude for writing, send your draft to our college essay review service, and we’ll take care of it.

Robin W. - professional essay editor and proofreader
Information prepared by EssayEdge editor
Robin Wilson
10+ years of experience
Our editors on College, Graduate, Medical, MBA, and Law admission documents help you with brainstorming, proofreading, and editing to make your writing concise, persuasive, and original.

Related Posts