College Recommendation Letter: 5 Effective Tips You Should Know

Here’s the deal: your college recommendation letters are way more important than you think. You’ve worked hard in high school.  Your GPA and test scores are proof that you did. However, the admission officer wants to know how well you did it. This is where your college recommendation letter comes in.


Recommendation letters are necessary because your grades and test scores don’t really reveal things about you. Yes, Admissions want to know if you’re really as awesome as you say you are. And they want to hear it from somebody who really knows about your skills, personality and potential.


college recommendation letter


With your admission at stake, you wouldn’t want weak recommendation letters that could harm your chances of getting accepted.  These tips will show you how to get a great college letter of recommendation to improve your odds of getting into that dream school.


Start Early


  • Are you applying for early decision or early action plans? Then start working on your recommendations before or by the start of your senior year. For regular decisions, start working a month or two before the deadline. Don’t do things at the last-minute.


  • You’re not the only one asking for letters of recommendation so give your teachers plenty of time to write. They’ll be doing a better job at writing them if they aren’t rushing. So be considerate and give ample time.


Choose wisely


  • Colleges have different preferences about who gets to write you a letter of recommendation. Usually it’s academic teachers from your junior or current year. But they could be any teacher from your core subjects – sometimes in a specific subject – or a school counselor. They could also be your coach, former employer or debate advisor.


  • Choose someone who knows you best and could say great things about you as he/she will be speaking on your behalf. They will vouch for your character so it’s important that they could highlight your positive qualities.


  • Your references will have to say substantial things about you because “generic” recommendations (like the ones from a college recommendation letter template) will not impress the admission officers. So pick somebody who actually knows you, and who is enthusiastic about writing the recommendation for you.



 Ask nicely


  • Make an appointment ahead of time to see them in person. This is the best way to do it unless they have moved to another state you couldn’t travel to; then you may call them and ask. Use email as the last resort! If they relocated to some foreign land without contact numbers, only and only then you may use email.


  • Take the time to speak to them. This is probably the best time to remind them about your participation in his/her class. Remind him/her about specific works or projects that challenged you and made you stand out. Discuss about your plans for college and the future.



Organize successfully


  • Make it easier for your references to write your recommendation letter. Organize the following information  into folders and provide it for them:


  1.  Your resumé with personal statement.
  2. Your statement of purpose (Why would this college be perfect for you? This will help them give specific information to support your application).
  3. A list of colleges you are applying for and the deadlines for each one highlighted.
  4. The recommendation forms.
  5. Stamped, addressed envelopes for each college or the email address/application details provided by colleges who prefer online submissions.
  6. Your contact details including your phone numbers, email and home addresses in case they have questions.
  7. ü  A short thank-you note.



Waive sweetly


  • Waive your right to view the recommendation letters. Confidentiality is best. Your letters will carry more weight in the admission officer’s perspective if you haven’t seen them. Be gracious and confident that your references will assess you to the best of your capabilities and performance. If you have doubts, they have no business writing your letters in the first place!



Well, Finally


  • A week or so before your recommendation letters are due, follow-up with your references to make sure that they have sent them.


  • Write thank you notes. Tell your references how much you appreciate their help and support. Let them know which college you’re going to and be grateful. You don’t just owe them for writing great recommendation letters; they’ve helped you get through high school as well.  The least you could do is to take the time to say thank you.

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