How to Request Letters of Recommendation

5 factors to consider when asking for a rec.

Tell admissions officials and potential employers who you are.

The goal of a recommendation letter is to humanize you; to tell admissions officials and potential employers about you as a person, as well as a student, and to tell a bit about your character.

Ask someone who knows you well.
The recommender should be able to speak to your personality and give insight into who you are beyond your grades. Ask someone who you interact with regularly, like a teacher, counselor, employer, or community leader.

Give your recommender plenty of time.
Try not to wait until the last minute to ask for a letter of recommendation—give your recommender at least a month to write a letter.

Request a letter of recommendation in person.
Practice what you’re going to say beforehand. The request should be genuine and heartfelt. Talk about the impact they’ve had on your life and explain how grateful you are for their guidance.

Make it easy on your recommender.
After you’ve asked for a letter of recommendation, give that individual all the necessary details:

  • What the letter is for (university application, job, scholarship) 
  • Who to address the letter to 
  • Submission requirements including deadline and desired format 


You may also want to include materials they need to “brag” about you. Include personal information describing:

  • Future aspirations and goals 
  • Intended major and why you’re choosing it 
  • Awards, honors, or accomplishments 
  • Relevant extracurricular activities 

These materials will help your recommender stay focused on key topics while including personal anecdotes.

Follow up and send a thank you.
As the application deadline approaches, it’s a good idea to contact your recommenders and politely remind them to submit their letters. After they’ve submitted your letter, write a card thanking them for their time and dedication to helping you achieve your goals.