Creating a Recommendation Letter: Guide for Students
Whether you are looking to get into college or obtain your first job, many people will ask you for recommendation letters throughout your search. Asking for a recommendation letter can be nerve-wracking, especially when you aren’t sure whom to ask and what to expect.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to remember when creating a recommendation letter.
What is a Student Recommendation Letter?
A student recommendation letter is a reference letter written on your behalf to explain to the other party why you are a good candidate for a college or a good fit for the job. It will explain your attributes and other unique things that will make you stand out from the crowd.
While you won’t be writing a student recommendation letter yourself, it’s still good to know what it should look like. You are encouraged to look for samples and take a peek at the recommendation letter template to see what should be included when you ask someone for a reference letter.
Who Do I Ask for Recommendations Letters?
Generally, recommendations letters cannot be written by someone who is related to you or someone that you have a close personal relationship. Recommendation letters need to be written by a professional who knows your work and can attest to your special qualities.
Students usually ask for recommendation letters from:
- A former or current teacher
- Principal of the school
- Dean of the school
- The school counselor or advisor
- A former employer (if they have one)
- Volunteer leader that has supervised them
- Sports coach
These are just some of the possibilities.
Why Would I Need a Recommendation Letter?
There are many reasons why you might need a recommendation letter. Here are the most common situations. Although, you should always tell your teacher or the person you’re asking to write the letter why exactly you need it and who will be on the receiving end.
Internships might take place the summer after you graduate or during your last year of high school. Internships will allow you to gain experience you might want for a future job. They also allow you to see what kind of skills you have and what duties you enjoy performing.
Many jobs don’t want to hire someone who has never had a job before, but they will hire someone who has done an internship. Try to get a letter of recommendation from a teacher who has experience in the same field as the internship.
For example, if you are applying for an internship in a medical laboratory, ask one of your science teachers for a letter of recommendation.
Scholarships and Grants
The faster college approaches, the more you probably realize that you need to start looking for scholarships or ways to fund your education. Most scholarships will ask for a letter of recommendation.
Getting a good letter of recommendation can secure your spot for college funding and help you cover some of the costs that come with education.
Your First Job
If you have already had a job, you might ask a previous employer for a reference. However, your first job can be hard to obtain since you don’t have work experience. Asking a teacher at school can be a great way to show an employer that you have desirable skills that would be beneficial in the workforce.
You can explain to the employer that you’ve never held a job, but you are a good student that has people who can back you up.
If you have already attended college and have a degree, you might be thinking about working towards a master’s or high degree. When applying to these programs, you almost always have to submit several student recommendations from professors you worked with at the undergraduate level.
This is why it’s always a good idea to form relationships with the professors and attend their extra study sessions. Always ask for recommendation letters from a professor where you received a high grade and worked hard.
What Should Be Included in the Letter?
While you won’t be the one writing the letter, it’s essential to make sure the letter has all the components needed. Try asking for a letter from someone who has written one before so you can ensure that there are no missing details. Keep in mind that some teachers will send the letter of recommendation directly to the institution, which means you will never have a chance to look at it.
This is why it’s crucial to ask for letters from people you know and trust well. The following things should always be included in the letter.
Names of the teacher and the student
The professor should always introduce themselves and say where they work and what position they hold. The professor also needs to introduce the student they are writing about.
This section will describe the potential and characteristics you hold that would make it beneficial for the receiver to have you working for them or attending their college. The receiver should have a good idea of what the student is like and what their personality is.
Desire to answer questions
The writer should include a short paragraph about how they are willing to answer questions and talk more and explain more if needed. This will make the receiver feel confident that they can call or email if they need to.
Recommendation letters should always be signed to show they’re official. It should also be dated. If there is an official stamp, the signer can also use their stamp to validate the letter.
The contact details should always be included. This allows the professor to be reached if there are any questions or concerns. If there are no contact details, many people will not consider the letter to be valid.
Extra Things to Consider
While writing a letter of recommendation is usually pretty straightforward, there are some things to consider before writing or asking for a letter.
Some things should never be included in the letter:
- Incorrect details about the student. If some things in the letter are not true, kindly ask the professor to change them.
- A negative review. If you don’t think highly of the student who is asking you for a letter, simply tell them you don’t have time or can’t write a letter.
- General language. Schools and employers can tell when the letter is too generic. Try to include specifics about the student to show you know who you’re talking about.
Some things to follow:
- Write official and professional. Make sure the tone of the letter is professional and well-communicated.
- Be ready for questions. Make sure the teacher or lecturer knows they might be contacted for questions.
- Submit the letter in time. If the deadline is approaching and you haven’t received your letter of recommendation, remind the professor and request to send the letter soon.
Letters of recommendations are a great way to show a potential employer or college admittee commission that you are prepared and ready for the tasks at hand. Just make sure your letter has all the things listed above.