Today, we will discuss letters of recommendation – something you’ll need when you apply to colleges or even graduate schools. How do you know which people to ask for recommendations and the etiquette behind requesting for one? I’ll list out some advice below.
Who to ask:
- Teachers/Professors: Assuming that you are applying to an academic institution, you should have at least one letter from a teacher or professor that can attest that you will be able to handle the rigorous academic environment and culture. In particular, you want this teacher to show an in-depth insight on your personal characteristics and why you would be an asset to this particular institution. The deeper the teacher understands you, the better the letter will be. Typically, for college admissions, you want one letter from a core subject teacher (Math, Science, English, History) and one letter from another teacher that can provide more input on you that is not from an academic perspective (ex. Elective teachers).
- Your Boss: This is either applicable towards a job or volunteer work. You want this person to know that you are a hard and capable worker. He or she should be able to attest that you have an amiable personality but know to put in work when it’s necessary
- Time: Always be sure to give your recommender ample amount of time to think and develop the letter. You may have to face the reality that others have asked the same person for recommendations. However, if you show courtesy, you will immediately set a more favorable impression of respecting his/her time and thus be on a good start. A good time to do this is right at the end of junior year. Ask your teachers ahead of time if they will agree to writing a letter of rec for you. It’s better to ask early rather than asking late and getting a “No” from said teacher(s)
- Asking: If you feel hesitant to ask the person for a recommendation, you should evaluate why that is. If it’s from shyness, you shouldn’t worry, as your recommender should be happy to receive you. If however you are worried that he/she won’t recommend you well, then you should consider another person. Make sure to choose a person that you had a good connection with.
In particular, you need to remember the main basis of a letter of recommendation is to have a personal recommendation that can highlight what the person knows to be your positive assets. These letters are the one of the best ways for the admission committees to know you past the black and white text of your applications. So make sure that they count!