How Do You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

Recommendation Letters

How Do You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?


You've figured out who you want to write your letters of recommendation - now it's time to make the ask. How can you best make that happen?

The most important thing to remember in approaching recommenders is that you are asking someone to do you a favor. Writing a recommendation takes time, thought, and work. As the recipient of that extra effort, you want to make your recommender's job as easy as possible.

• Ask for the conversation first, not the letter. "Can I please meet with you sometime this week to talk about a letter of recommendation for my college applications?"

• Ask early! Popular teachers will get flooded with requests for recommendations; you don't want to be declined for being one-too-many.

• Before your meeting, prepare a coherent explanation for why you would like a letter from this person. For example, "I've loved taking world history with you, and since you've coached our debate team, you have unique perspective on what I'm like inside and outside the classroom." This is the same brainstorming you need to do for your recommender one-pager anyway.

• Provide the relevant details so your recommender knows what they're signing up for. How many schools are you applying to? What are their deadlines?

• Make sure to tell your recommender that you will supply them with a one-pager with all the relevant information - then follow through! If your letters require physical mail, provide stamped and addressed envelopes.


Throughout the process, always be mindful that your recommender is doing you a favor. Make your gratitude clear, and do whatever you can to simplify and facilitate their work!