Letters of Recommendation


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Acquiring Letters of Recommendation


sFirst, choose the right people to write you letters of recommendation.

Your letters of recommendation can help you make the cut during college admission and scholarship selection!

  C References should be respected community members.

  C   High profile positions in the community do carry some clout.

  C  The references you choose should know you and be able to give specific details about
  your character, your strengths, your skills, your gifts, and your personality.

  C  References should “fit” the scholarship you are working toward – if you are applying
  for a basketball scholarship, by all means, tap your coach!

  C  Employers and former employers can make great references.

  D  A family member is not an appropriate reference.


sWhat’s next?  The ASK!

  C  Tell the person why you chose him/her to serve as a reference for you.

  C  Be sure to ask the person if s/he is willing to write you a great letter of reference.

  C  Make sure the person has the time to write you a great letter of reference.

  C  Listen for clues - if the person hedges, the letter he or she writes might not be
the most complimentary of you.  You’d rather get a “no” than a bad letter!


sYou got a yes!  Be prepared to follow-up!

  C  Provide a copy of your grades or transcript, your activities, your athletic statistics,
your leadership roles – make it easy for your reference to remember
all your qualities and achievements.

  C  For scholarships, provide a copy of the particular scholarship guidelines for each scholarship.
This helps the person align his or her comments with the purpose of the scholarship.

  C  Provide clear instructions:  Maximum letter length?  Addressed to a specific person?
Deadline?  Does the letter come back to you in a sealed envelope?
Will you pick the letter up?
Should the letter be sent directly to the college or selection committee?



  C  Don’t hesitate to remind the person a week before the deadline.

  C  Confirm plans for getting the letter to where it needs to be.

  C  Thank the person for the letter when you get it.
  Then follow-up with a short hand-written note of appreciation.


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Benefit Your Students:
Write Effective Letters of Recommendation



  Congratulations!  You’ve been asked to write a Reference Letter or Letter of Recommendation for a student.  Letters of Recommendation can be the deciding factor for a scholarship selection panel or a job!  So, you should begin by making a decision: Will you give the student a helpful letter of recommendation?  If yes, skip down to “Get Prepared.”  This is truly a time that if you cannot say something VERY nice, don’t say anything at all.


Get Prepared:

  C Use school letterhead to add authority to your letter.

  CFormat the letter properly – the school secretary knows the appropriate margins to use
for school letterhead, so ask her if you are unsure.

  CGather materials the student provided: To whom should the letter be addressed?
   Is there a maximum length? Are there written guidelines?
What is the focus of the scholarship?
Did the student provide a transcript or list of activities or leadership roles that

  you want to use to refresh your memory?


State your qualifications.

  C Why should a letter from you be worthy?


State your relationship with the student.

  CHow do you know the student?  Personally?  From class?  As a coach?

  In a volunteer situation?

  C How long have your known the student?


Give the students’ strengths in all known areas.

  C What is your judgment of the student and his/her potential?

  C What are the student’s outstanding character traits, qualities, strengths and skills?  Give examples.

  CTell about the student’s participation in class, in the school as a whole, in the community
(including community service) and the strengths or growth you’ve witnessed through
  that participation.

  C Describe the student in leadership roles.

  C Tell about the student’s general demeanor.

  C What stands out about the student’s personality?

  C Tell about the student’s work ethic and sense of responsibility.

  C How does the student interact with others?

  C How does the student handle adversity?

  C Does the student have special strengths?


State your recommendation.

  C Summarize why you support the student.  Make the ending of your letter strong and believable.


Take time to proofread your letter.

  C If there is time, put it aside for a day and then proofread.


Place the letter in an envelope and seal.

  C You can sign across the seal, but it isn’t always necessary. 


Follow the directions provided or the process agreed upon with the student.

  C Give the letter to the student or mail to the appropriate address.


You may decide that you want the student and his/her parents/guardians to know the esteem in which you hold that student.  If so, provide a copy of the letter for the student in a separate envelope.





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