How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
Last updated September 1, 2021
Letters of recommendation (LOR) should be written by someone who can vouch for your accomplishments. And no, you can’t ask your mom or BFF for letters. Letters should be written by a teacher, counselor, or in very special cases, a mentor. To help get you started, we surveyed more than 200 educators and counselors and asked about the college application and letter of recommendation process, here’s what we found out.
Ask for letters of recommendation the fall of your senior year when college applications go live
Fifty-five percent of educators said they’d prefer if you asked them for a letter of recommendation the fall of your senior year. Some educators may be open to writing you a letter before then, but the fall of your senior year is your best bet.
Ask an educator in person
While some schools may have recommendation letter packets for students to fill out, 66% of educators prefer if you ask them for a letter in person. Asking an educator for a letter in person will give the educator a better impression of you. Talking to you face-to-face will stick out to them more than sending an email. Also, ask an educator who knows you the most and is the most relevant to what the LOR will be used for. (Example - sport scholarship, ask your Coach!) They’ll be more inclined to write a letter since they have a more personal experience with you.
Give an educator at least a 3-week notice before it’s due
It takes educators about a week to complete a letter of recommendation, but that doesn’t mean you should only give them a week. Based on the educators we asked, on average, they complete about 20 letters of recommendation a year. Your request will be added to that pile. By giving them three weeks, you’re giving them enough time to write an awesome letter, follow-up and give your educator a reminder.
Provide a Brag Sheet
A Brag Sheet is a student resume. Your Brag Sheet should include accomplishments, skills, and abilities you’d like your educators to know about. Your Brag Sheet will help educators get a better sense of what you’ve done and who you are. When they’re crafting your letter, the Brag Sheet will help them highlight your accomplishments and make you a stand-out applicant for college.
Send thank you letters
For every educator who writes you a letter of recommendation, send them a thank you letter. They put in the work for you; they deserve a thank you card. Remember, educators are people too!
By doing everything on our list, the letter of recommendation process will be smoother for both you and the educators writing your letters.