The recommendation letter is one of the most important parts of an application – but many students give it little thought. The truth is – What gets sent to can make a huge difference in the college admission process.
Let’s go over the best ways to make sure you get recommendations that can make that difference.
How To Get Great Letters of Recommendation
1. Stick with people close to you.
Too many students reach to get the most impressive name in their extended address book – but that’s a move that often backfires. It’s best to get someone who knows you well. In fact, teachers and instructors make for some of the best recommendations. As do bosses or extracurricular leaders. The more personal and genuine the recommendation, the more effective it will be.
2. Provide plenty of time to the recommender.
Surprisingly, the majority of students spring a recommendation request at the last second. Don’t fall into that trap.
For one thing, popular teachers may have their schedule already filled with requests. For another, your recommender won’t have time to craft a great letter, and will likely have to fall back to something closer to a form letter.
Finally, rather than feel honored, the person might feel put upon to receive this extra work at the last second.
3. Give plenty of background.
Your recommender should know you well – but might not know much about your life outside the classroom or community activity. Don’t be afraid to give them a resume or quick bio summary. They may not use it – but you never know what could spark a thought.
Give them as many possible jumping-off points as possible, and you make their jobs easier. Not to mention, you may end up bringing more personal info into your application without having to excessively your own horn.
4. Provide support.
Your recommender shouldn’t have to research where to send the letter, or when. Give them a schedule. Provide stamped and addressed envelopes. Make the process as simple as possible, to make the favor less of a chore.
These little things add up quite a bit when a popular teacher is asked to write 20 letters in a short time period. Make yours the easiest to write, and chances are you’ll get your recommendation letter finished promptly.
And don’t be scared to follow up – when a deadline is approaching, it’s fine to give a gentle reminder to your contact. Don’t be a pest – but don’t get lost in an email inbox, either.
5. Give thanks.
You never know when you’ll need another recommendation, another favor, or just a good mentor. Stay on great terms by sending some sort of thank-you note. You’ll appear mature and appreciative, while your recommender won’t feel like you’ve wasted his or her time. Show appreciation, and it will come back to you in unpredictable ways.