How to Get an Exceptional Letter of Recommendation

Many colleges include in their admissions application requirements three letters of recommendation. These letters allow the people reading your application materials a glimpse into your character and other un quantifiable attributes that make you unique. They also show that you have advocates who are willing to speak on your behalf. Because your letters of rec describe you as a person and speak to your academic and personal abilities, you want them to show the best parts about you. Therefore, if you start forming your identity in your school and community early, you will have more opportunities to build positive relationships with possible recommenders. Take a look at these tips to ensure that your letters of recommendation are exceptional.

Plan Ahead

Aside from making your mark in school and extracurricular activities early in your high school career, you can help your recommenders by giving them the time they need to write a compelling letter. One month is the absolute minimum amount of time you should give your letter writers, but you need to remember that they may be writing letters for other students, as well. A year is not too far in advance to ask for a letter from teachers and other mentors. Just remember to remind them every now and again to submit or give you the letter to include with your application.

Choosing Recommenders

Your choice of recommenders will determine what kinds of letters you get. Good choices include teachers who know you and your work well, preferably from recent classes. Teachers from Junior and Senior year are the best option, but make sure they are familiar enough with what you’ve accomplished. You can also ask your employers or other community members who can write about your work ethic. However, be sure that your application doesn’t require that your letters be from instructors only before asking someone from another field.

How You Can Help Your Recommenders

Since your recommenders are probably going to be busy writing letters for other students, you need to help them out as much as possible. Here’s how:

  • Schedule time with them to talk about your academic interests and goals.
  • Talk to them about your accomplishments.
  • If you’ve taken their class or worked with them, remind them of your projects.
  • Ask them if they have any questions that would help them write the letter.
  • Tell them about any challenges you’ve overcome in your life.

Some of the best letters talk about you as a whole person, so give your recommenders as much information as they need. Show them that you are willing to put in the work and they will go to bat for you.

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