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Unlocking College Admissions Success with Letters of Recommendation

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

As an educator for many years, I am often asked to write Letters of recommendation for my students. These letters are an important part of the college admissions process and provide insight into your character, abilities, and potential as a student which help admissions committees make more informed decisions.


Here are some tips that I have given to my own students on securing strong letters of recommendation for your college applications:

1. Choose the Right Recommenders: Please don't ask relatives to write the letters.

  • Select people who know you well and can speak your academic abilities, character, and personal qualities.

  • Consider teachers, counselors, mentors, employers, or community leaders who have interacted with you in meaningful ways ie. job shadowing, volunteer work, tutoring

2. Build Relationships Early:

  • Establish strong relationships with potential recommenders well before you need the letter. Engage in class, attend office hours, and participate in extracurricular activities.

  • The more your recommenders know you, the more compelling and authentic their letters will be.

3. Request Letters Early:

  • Ask for letters of recommendation well in advance of application deadlines (at least a few months prior). This gives your recommenders ample time to write thoughtful letters.

  • Use a polite and formal approach when making the request, and be sure to explain your goals and why you are asking them specifically.

4. Provide Information:

  • Offer your recommenders relevant information, such as your resume, a list of your accomplishments, and any specific points you'd like them to address in the letter. If you know your major, let the recommender know.

  • Share your personal statement or essay topics with them so they can tailor their letters to complement your application.

5. Follow Up Politely:

  • After making your request, follow up with gentle reminders closer to the deadline. Be respectful of their time and commitments.

  • Ensure they have all the necessary information, including submission instructions and deadlines.

6. Diversity of Perspectives:

  • Consider asking recommenders from different areas of your life. For example, a teacher can speak to your academic skills, while a mentor can discuss your leadership qualities or community involvement.

7. Quality over Quantity:

  • It's better to have a few well-written, heartfelt letters than to submit a large number of generic ones. Focus on depth and authenticity.

8. Thank Your Recommenders:

  • After you've received the letters, express your gratitude with a thank-you note or email. This is not only polite but also leaves a positive impression.

9. Ensure Submission:

  • Verify that your recommenders have submitted their letters on time and that they meet the submission requirements of each college.

10. Stay Organized:

  • Keep a record of all your recommenders, their contact information, and the colleges or programs to which they are sending letters. This will help you track submissions and avoid errors.

Remember that the quality of your letters of recommendation can significantly impact your college admissions chances.

Choose recommenders who can provide genuine, specific, and positive insights into your abilities and character.

By following these guidelines and maintaining respectful communication throughout the process, you can increase the likelihood of receiving strong letters of recommendation for college admissions.

At Career and College Counselors, we identify and give teens the knowledge of their strengths, interests, passions, stresses, values, and possible career paths. This knowledge will empower them to stay true to themselves and peer pressure can easily be overcome.

If you want to better prepare your teen, schedule a FREE Consultation or

Schedule your Teen's Values which will be useful in college essays.

Tom and Maria Ann Geffers

Career and College Counselors

Teen Coaches


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