Ultimate Guide on How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for a Student
Letter of Recommendation Definition
A recommendation letter is a letter written in support of the candidate (in our case, student). It is a thorough evaluation of the candidate’s skills, qualities, and experiences important for a particular position. It should be accompanied with examples and documents to help the committee get the right picture of the candidate. This letter will provide unique information that can’t be found in other documents.
A recommendation letter for a student is typically written by a teacher, professor, or individuals the student works with during the program. You may need a recommendation letter:
- for college
- for medical school
- for immigration
- for law school
- for a job
- for an internship
It is a regular practice for the student to write a letter of recommendation by themselves and have the professor only sign it. No matter whether you are a student or a professor, this guide will help you create a professional recommendation letter.
It may take time and effort to write a good letter of recommendation. This article will be helpful for you if you need to write a letter of recommendation for yourself and for people who were asked to write a recommendation for others. We provide insights, writing tips, and advice from experienced writers on how to do so. Let’s check it out!
How to Write a Recommendation Letter: Making a Request
The best way to ask for a letter of recommendation is to ask personally. You can arrange the meeting with the professor or just catch him or her in the office. If you have no ability to ask personally, you can always make a call or send an email.
Here we will list the recommendations to request a letter of recommendation successfully:
- Choose the person who will be giving you a reference wisely. It will be better to choose someone who knows well about your skills and personal qualities. If you need to choose the professor, look for those who remember your name and you have more than one course with. This will guarantee that the person will be able to write a well-crafted reference letter.
- Make the request in advance. It is preferable to make a request at least a month before the deadline for a recommendation letter. The person you ask for a recommendation may have a tight schedule and just won’t have time to write a letter.
- Make a specific request. The reader should easily understand what kind of recommendation letter you need. If there are any requirements for the recommendation letter or specific deadlines, try to mention it in the text.
- Provide basic information about yourself. The professor may need some time to remember you. State the following points: your name, the courses you took with this professor, the years, the major, and why you need a recommendation.
- Be polite and use an appropriate tone. The content of the letter will depend on relationships you have with the professor. Thank the professor for the time and consideration at the end of the letter. It doesn’t matter whether he or she agrees to write the letter or not.
- Leave contact information. Also, you can mention that you are ready to arrange a meeting with the professor if his or her decision about the letter will be positive.
- Follow up the letter with a phone call or visit the professor personally during the appointment time in the office if you haven’t received an answer for one or two weeks.
The content of the letter will depend on the level of your relationship with the professor and your expectations from the recommendation letter. Let’s look at the following example where the student asks the professor to recommend him for the internship:
Subject: Recommendation for Neville Longbottom
Dear Prof. Macgonagall,
Would you consider taking a moment to write a recommendation letter for me? I have applied to the Ministry of Magic for internship in their Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. I chose to apply to this organization because I was extremely excited about their professionals in the department.
I would appreciate it if you would comment on my skills in the required areas of expertise. The requirements to the position for which I’m applying are in the attachment. Contact me if you will need more information.
Your favorable recommendation will help me secure a position I am excited to obtain. Thank you for your consideration and time.
Preparing: How to Write a College Recommendation Letter
You may think that writing a letter is not a big deal. But if you think deeply, you will understand that your letter may influence the future of a particular person. Take the writing process seriously, as it is a great responsibility.
If you were asked to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school, you need to know the candidate to write a good recommendation letter. Then, make sure that you have enough time for writing this letter. Don’t agree to write a letter of recommendation if you are not totally sure that you will be able to write a good letter.
To write a good letter of recommendation you will need to make several preparatory steps.
Step 1. Find out what letter of recommendation you need to write. The candidate should provide clear instructions, requirements, and the place to send the letter. Some recommendation letters should be submitted online, while others should be sent by email or snail mail.
Step 2. Collect information. Make sure that you have found out as much information about the candidate as you can. It will guarantee that you will write a unique letter. For the people that you are not working with closely, you will need additional information like dates, locations, copies of articles and papers that they have written, future plans, current work, class records, etc. In addition you can meet the candidate to find out more information personally.
Here is a list of points that will help you get more information about the candidate. You can just copy and paste this list into your reply or ask them personally:
- Resume (or CV)
- Transcript copy and test scores
- Copy of admission essay to your current program
- Suggestions about qualities and information that should be highlighted in the text
- Requirements for the recommendation letter and deadline
- A list of accomplishments and future career goals
- Any additional questionnaires or documents that should be completed and attached to the letter
- Information about the internship, company, or organization
- Goals, plans, and desires in the chosen field
- Contact information of the student
Step 3. Make a list of qualities. The most common mistake made in recommendation letters is the use of metaphoric writing. Writing a list will help you create a more concise letter. Use them as keywords in the text:
- academic/professional qualities
- specific skills, abilities, strength
- character traits
- accomplishments or contributions to class or community
When you feel that you have gathered enough information about the candidate, you can proceed to writing the letter.
Steps on How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for a Student
First, let’s define the length of a recommendation letter. It shouldn’t be too long or too short. Even if you have a lot to say about the student, don’t turn the letter into a novel. Most recommendation letters are one or two pages long, so choose the content wisely.
1. Write the introduction.
Firstly, you need to introduce yourself as a professional. Tell where you work, about your experience, and how long you have worked with the candidate. Briefly tell how you know the candidate and your own qualifications. Tell the reader why he or she should trust you. Don’t forget to write about the program or position the student is applying to. This information should be written at the very beginning of the letter.
Secondly, write your general impression of the candidate. If you have worked with the candidate closely on a certain project, indicate the type of research, the student’s responsibilities, and describe your experience. At the end of the paragraph, briefly say why the candidate is worth the position he or she is applying to.
2. Write the body of the letter.
In this section you need to concentrate on several of the most important qualities of the candidate. Pick the qualities that will be beneficial for the position the student is applying to. Asses the student’s capabilities, teamwork, interests, knowledge, and other activities. At the same time you need to show the student’s personal characteristics, such as approach to life, energy, social skills, etc.
To make your text more personal, you can apply some mild criticism that should be compensated with strong skills. For example, you can point out the student’s stubbornness, which is compensated by a good sense of humor.
Support each quality with evidence from your practice. Add an anecdote or describe situations where the student has shown these qualities.
3. Write the conclusion.
Explain why you think the candidate fits the position. Explain how the candidate will contribute to the company or organization. Show your confidence in the candidate’s abilities to succeed in the chosen position. State your final judgment: strongly/highly/enthusiastically recommend. Welcome the reader to contact you for more information and attach your contact details after the signature and name.
4. Proofread and edit the letter.
Polish the first draft of the text. Make sure that you have highlighted all necessary points and the text looks good. Then correct all punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors.
5. Share with the student.
When the letter will be written, share it with the candidate and finalize the details. The candidate may ask you to make certain corrections or give advice about the text.
Recommendation Letter Sample for Student
To have a better understanding of what a good recommendation should look like, we recommend you to look at the text below. Our author has created a letter of recommendation for students who want to take an internship. The author has made some comments on the document to point out the most important points you need to consider in your letter.
Click on the pictures to see their full size.
Tips to Write a Good Letter of Recommendation for a Teacher
- Always carefully choose the person to make a recommendation. You should write an honest recommendation letter. If you are not sure that the candidate is good enough for the position, just tell him or her to ask someone else.
- Ask the student to provide additional information: diplomas, certificates, publications, etc.
- Write the letter in a positive tone. You need to express positive feelings about the candidate.
- Store information about the candidate in one place. Create a folder with the candidate’s name on your computer.
- Analyze the requirements for the position for which you need to write a recommendation letter.
- Write the letter as soon as possible if you don’t want to write in a rush.
- Always proofread the final version of the letter. Mistakes are not acceptable.
- If you don’t know the candidate well, or just have no time for writing, don’t agree to write a recommendation letter.
- Divide the main text of the letter into paragraphs. Make your letter easy to read.
- Concentrate on the candidate. Don’t turn the letter to your side – just mention why you are the one who can recommend the candidate.
- Don’t use generalities and platitudes. Avoid mentioning race, age, religion, or any other characteristics connected with discrimination.
Phrases to Use in an Academic Letter of Recommendation
In your recommendation letter you need to be highly specific. Pick words wisely, as even one word can be harmful. Don’t use words like “good,” “nice,” “satisfactory,” “reasonable,” “fairly,” etc.
Phrases for the Introduction
I am pleased to recommend [Name] …
I am delighted to be called upon as a reference for [Name] …
I am writing this letter at the request …
[Name] has asked me to write …
I am happy to recommend [Name] …
I have been teaching for …
It has been a pleasure to be a mentor of [Name] …
I was able to get to know [Name] because …
It is a pleasure to write a letter of recommendation for [Name] …
[Name] has worked directly under my supervision …
As a student, [Name] pursued the course …
I have known [Name] for …
I was [Name]’s teacher/professor/mentor/etc. …
Phrases for the Body
To begin with, he/she is …
The candidate has shown …
In my opinion …
[Name] constantly shows …
The combination of such qualities as … makes [Name] truly unique.
He/She is the only student I ever had …
He/She was in the top …
He/She has proactively joined …
He/She has the best … skills of any person their age …
The only fault I have encountered …
Some of the main attributes of [Name] …
Since the beginning of our close work …
I would like to mention here that [Name] is …
The hallmark of [Name]’s character is …
His/Her extraordinary ability to …
My association with [Name] …
That was mostly due to …
His/her greatest talent is in …
[Name] has always taken active participation in …
From my experience/collaboration I can conclude …
I would like to say that it is pleasant to work …
He/She always finished the task on schedule …
Phrases for the Conclusion
Based on the time working with [Name] I have come to the conclusion …
In summary …
In closing, I should state that …
I can offer only the highest recommendation …
I am sure that [Name] will continue showing the highest results during the sorority / fraternity program …
[Name] will be a great addition …
[Name] has my strong recommendations …
I would expect [Name] to bring these same qualities …
I believe that [Name]’s abilities …
It is a pleasure to be able to give [Name] my highest recommendation …
If I can further assist …
I give my highest recommendation …
It is satisfying to be able to give recommendation to …
I am therefore very please to recommend [Name] …
Here is a list of powerful words and phrases that you may find helpful in highlighting the candidate’s qualities:
Good sense of humor
Willing to take on new responsibilities
A recommendation letter may become a pretty compelling argument when the committee or manager decides between several candidates for the same position. We hope that our guide will help you create a great letter of recommendation. All of our tips can be applied to a letter of recommendation for an employee, student, or any other specialist. Our advice is only based on recommendations and gives basic information on how to write a reference letter for a student. Keep in mind to leave enough time for writing this type of letter. Good luck!