How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Use these guidelines to get powerful letters of recommendation for college and scholarship applications.

Toward the end of your junior year and early senior year, you’ll need to decide which teachers will provide the best letters of recommendation for your college applications. Think about who knows you best: your accomplishments, the challenges you’ve faced, your unique strengths, and your personality.

The best letters are not rushed! Decide whom to ask as soon as you can and give them plenty of notice – at least 2 to 3 weeks (not including vacation days). A good letter will take 1 to 2 hours to write and your teachers will be writing many letters. Respect their time and effort and you’re sure to get a letter that reflects not just your classroom accomplishments but also their appreciation.

Here are some guidelines you can follow:

  1. Schedule appointments with each teacher to discuss your goals and ambitions so they’ll be more prepared to write about you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to remind them about your accomplishments, your hobbies or extracurricular activities and any obstacles you’ve overcome.
  3. Provide teachers with a copy of your high school resume and papers/assignments you’re proud of so they have a quick point of reference.
  4. Give letter of recommendation forms to the teachers you have chosen, along with stamped, addressed envelopes so they can send them directly to the colleges.
  5. Be sure to fill out your name and address and the school name on each form.
  6. Don’t forget to note the application deadline for each.
  7. Follow up with each teacher by writing a thank you note.