How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter

You’ve thought long and hard about who will tell the admissions officers at (insert Ivy League school here) that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now it’s time to ask them to write those glowing letters for you.

But I’m nervous!

Don’t be nervous about asking! Most of the time people are happy to write a recommendation letter. Teachers also know to expect it during application season, since they’ve been writing recommendation letters for students probably every year they’ve been teaching.

But I feel bad about taking up their time!

Don’t feel guilty about it! At some point someone wrote THEM a letter of recommendation, and someday maybe YOU’LL be asked to write one for someone else!

Approach your recommenders

Ask your recommender in person if you can. This shows that you’re serious and responsible. And…

  • Don’t put it off! Give them plenty of time to get the letter written. Asking for a letter a week before the application is due is a BAD idea. It’s best ask someone to write your letter a month in advance (or more) so that they a) have the time to do it and b) have the time to do a good job on it.
  • Make it easy for them! Provide your recommender with all the information you can about the school and the programs you’re applying to. Be sure to give them all the application deadlines, your contact information, copies of forms they need to fill out, the colleges’ addresses, a stamped and addressed envelope for their letter, and a copy of your resume.
  • Thank your recommenders. Gifts aren’t necessary, but write your recommender a nice thank you note. It will make them feel appreciated.

Now go get those recommendations!