You’ve selected your top choices for college and are ready to put together your application package. It’s common for colleges to require a letter of recommendation for school. Do some research to ensure that you know what is required. Some schools may limit the number of letters that you can submit. Others may only want recommendation letters from teachers that can speak about your academic achievement and potential. Ask your references well in advance, so that they’ll have time to meet the application deadline.
Consider the People That Know You Best
Begin by reflecting upon who knows the most about your talents and gifts. A letter of recommendation for college admission should set you apart from other applicants. If you’ve won academic awards or excel in a specific subject, you’ll want to ask for a letter from teachers that have mentored you along the way. Similarly, a boss or coach may be able to speak about your out of class accomplishments.
Create a Standard E-mail Request
Most prospective references prefer to be asked in writing. Draft an e-mail that outlines your request and includes the deadline for submission:
Dear Ms. Wilson
I'm interested in applying to College X, and I’m wondering if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for my admission packet. The deadline for submission is November 1.
Send your request at least one month prior to the submission deadline.
Follow Up with Your References
If you don’t hear back from your references following your email request, don’t hesitate to contact them again. They may need to be reminded, and if they’re not able to meet your deadline, you’ll need time to contact the next person on your list.
Attach Personal Background Information
When you send the email request, attach some supplemental information for the letter of recommendation for college admission. You’ll want to include your intended major and a resume that highlights your academic and extra-curricular achievements. Let your references know that you’re happy to provide any other information that they may need to write a letter of recommendation for college admission.
Request a Letter of Reference from Your Teachers
Since college is the next step in your academic journey, a reference from a teacher can make a big impact. High school teachers are eager to support students that are interested in pursuing higher education. Begin by asking a teacher that has challenged you to realize your full potential for a letter of recommendation for college admission. You can also approach a teacher that has served as a mentor or advisor as you’ve considered your college options.
Ask for a letter of Recommendation from a Boss
A letter of recommendation from your boss demonstrates your work ethic and ability to manage multiple responsibilities. If you don’t know your boss well, ask for a short meeting to discuss your goals and aspirations. Be sure to emphasize how the job has helped you grow and develop.
Provide Mailing Information
Once you’ve secured a college recommendation letter from an employer or teacher, you’ll need to determine if you can mail them in one packet or if the college prefers that they’re mailed individually. If your references need to mail them, provide a self-addressed envelope that includes the necessary postage. If not, arrange a time to pick up the letters that is convenient for the reference writers.
Send a Thank You Note
Once your references have been mailed, think about the best way to show your thanks. You can send a handwritten note or bake some cookies to show your appreciation. Once you’ve made your college decision, be sure to follow up with your references to let them know that their letter of recommendation for college admission made a difference.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.