Letters of Recommendation – The Ins and Outs of Asking
An important part of the college application is letters of recommendation. How do you go about asking teachers, employers or mentors for one? With these 6 simple tips, asking for a letter will become second nature and the content of these letters will be positively reflective of your capabilities.
- Who You Ask Matters: When considering who to ask, think critically about who knows you best and will have positive things to say about your character and your capabilities. Think about the teachers you may have stood out to, your supervisor at your part time job and those you’ve worked with in volunteer positions at your church or a local community center.
- Make Request Face to Face: When you are asking for a favor that could help pave the way for your future, you need to make the request face to face. Take the time to go see them. Make an appointment or take the individual to coffee and ask them to write your letter of recommendation in that setting.
- Give Ample Time: There is a famous saying that “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine” and in this case it rings true. Give the author of your letter enough time to write a quality letter while balancing his or her own life. Give at least two weeks notice, but for good measure, make your request at least four weeks from the due date.
- Do All The Work: Writing a letter of recommendation can be hard work if you don’t have all the information that you need to be successful. If there is a particular template the university requires, include it. Send all standards and guidelines set forth by the program in which you are applying and follow up to answer any questions that your reference may have.
- Keep it Confidential: Although you have the right to read your letters of recommendation, many applications offer the chance to waive that right. Doing so can actually help in the long run as confidential letters tend to carry more weight; the admissions officer can rest assured that your reference is offering their candid feedback about you.
- Be Gracious and Thankful: Follow up with a handwritten thank you note to show your gratitude. A long handed card will always leave a positive impression on your friends, teachers and supervisors, and will encourage them to help you again in the future.
Keep these tips in mind when you are in need of a good quality letter of recommendation, and remember that the words of others can make all the difference when it comes to conveying your best qualities to admissions officers.
Photo Credit: borman818
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