How to get strong letters of recommendation?

Choosing Someone to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

The letters of recommendation that you will be sending with the rest of your materials to the college of your choice is one part of your application over which you have no control. You don’t know what your recommender will write about you and once the letter is submitted, you can’t’ really get it back. So, it’s important to choose carefully the person that you are going to ask to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. First, you should choose someone that knows you well, like a teacher or a member of the community with whom you have interacted. A teacher is often a good choice, because teachers are not only familiar with your academic abilities, they are also familiar with writing recommendation letters. Since they write these letters pretty regularly, then understand how the process works and will have some idea of how to write an effective letter. Once you have chosen some people to ask for recommendation letters, you should meet with them and let them know which schools you are planning to apply to and what you have been doing lately. The more they know about you, the easier it will be for them to write a letter that is interesting, specific, and effective.

Let Your Recommenders Know the Application Deadlines!

Your recommenders may be busy people and they may be writing recommendation letters for other students. Give them a lot of time to write your letter and make sure that you are very clear about when you need the letter. Let them know what the application deadlines are. If the deadlines are getting close and you haven’t heard anything from your recommenders, it is acceptable to remind them of the deadlines, but you do not want to nag, so don’t pester them with daily phone calls or emails.

Thank Your Recommenders

Your recommenders have done you quite a service by writing recommendation letters on your behalf and so you really need to thank them for the help that they have given you. After you thank them, you could also stay in touch. Let them know how the applications go and which college you finally choose. They will be interested and will take some satisfaction in the role they played to help you get into a school.

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