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Everything that You Need to Know about College Recommendation Letter

college recommendation letter

At present, the applicant pool is rather competitive, and one must do his/her best to grab the attention of board officers and prove to be the top candidature. This is when a college recommendation letter may be of great help. A well-written document will present a person’s impressive characteristics and become decisive for the positive admissions decision. This guide will provide you with all crucial information about a winning college recommendation letter.

What is a College Recommendation Letter?

A college recommendation letter is a letter that a young person needs to create for college. Some educational establishments have a ready form that must be filled, while others expect to see a professionally-formatted document. Such a letter plays an important role in making admission decisions. It includes the person’s achievements and helps the board officers understand the applicant’s character. 

In case one wants to get into some specific program, it is necessary to learn all peculiarities of a good college recommendation letter. For instance, if you are dreaming of joining a nursing program, then you need to present a top-quality letter meeting all available requirements to get a positive admission decision.

Why is a College Recommendation Letter Important?

Your application for a scholarship or a university directly clarifies why you are eager to get into a particular school or obtain funds to pay for it. However, a recommendation letter from somebody else is crucial in both cases: either for a scholarship or school entrance. Having a person who is ready to present your best qualities is your lucky ticket to achieving success.

Who Can You Ask to Write a Letter?

Being a student, you may experience difficulties with deciding who to ask for writing a recommendation letter for you. The person who you choose is significant as colleges pay attention to this while going over the letters. Here are a few recommendations on people who you may ask for help:

  • Teachers. Your teacher is a perfect person to ask for writing a college recommendation letter for you, especially if you have nice relationships. Think about an English teacher who has been with you for at least three years. Such a person can reveal your character well and talk about your academic skills.
  • Extracurricular advisors or coaches. These people are nice candidatures as they know you outside the formal classroom atmosphere. They may share their observations and be efficient. For instance, the coach may talk about your superb ability to work as a team member. An advisor will tell you about your artistic talents or organizational skills. Such unique insight information is priceless for colleges that are searching for students with definite features of character and extra skills.
  • Employers. It is a nice choice for students who work at high school. The employers may speak about your ability to take under the control of any situation with the clients and perfect service abilities. Young people who are eager to join a nursing or business program should consider employers as awesome candidates to ask for writing a college recommendation letter for you.

Usually, the colleges want to receive letters from these people because they act as owners of valuable information and may help choose the best applicants. Hence, the better reputation a specialist has, the more chances for the successful approval of a candidature are.

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What to Include in a College Recommendation Letter?

The board officers look at some definite things while reading numerous recommendation letters. Here they are:

  1. Get data from a student. A person should give a copy of the resume, grades and persuade why he/she should receive a recommendation letter. A student writes the letter with data that is important for starting the document.
  2. Focus on program/school. While preparing a letter for a particular program or school, it should be tailored exactly to it rather than talking about general things. Such a letter must sound serious about the person you are writing for.
  3. Add specific examples. Ensure that each fact that you mention in the letter has great examples to support the statement. It will positively influence the committee’s decision.
  4. Say who you are and how you know the student. First of all, introduce yourself and then mention how you know the young person. It will add more trust to your recommendation. Add your own qualifications to sound more professional. The main purpose of such a letter is to sell the candidature of the student.

What to Reveal in a Letter

Here are a few helpful questions that will make your writing process quicker and easier:

  • What is the main motivation for the person? What excites him/her?
  • What unusual skills, leadership abilities, competence does the person have?
  • Did the applicant show the desire to develop beyond the normal classroom level?
  • What will you remember about the student?
  • Has the student had any failures? If yes, what was the reaction?
  • Are there any community circumstances that should be known?
  • What is the general context of relationships with a given applicant?
  • How does the student interact with teachers/ peers?
  • What makes a person to be recognized as a great applicant?
  • What are the social skills of a student?

The answers to these questions will help better reveal the applicant’s personality and grab attention to his/her strengths.  

Formatting a College Recommendation Letter

You need to mind a few things while formatting a college recommendation letter to make it look more professional. The format must be standard and include the following points:

  1. The date. You need to mention the date, either the day you are writing the letter or the one that you are going to send it on. Make sure that letter will arrive before a deadline.
  2. A return address. Check a return address as it is a must for a college recommendation letter. Otherwise, the admission will not be able to get in touch with you.
  3. A college address. Include the college address or any other specific details that you might get from another person. In case you do not have the address, check the college website to find it.
  4. Addressing the letter. Mention a contact individual for the admissions board to address the letter to. It’s better to avoid general phrases, as otherwise, your recommendation letter will be weak.
  5. Introduction. The most suitable beginning of a recommendation letter is your brief presentation and the information on how you know the particular applicant. Two-three sentences will be enough.
  6. Student’s accomplishments. Now, it’s high time to speak about the applicant’s achievements, both academic and rest. It is up to you to decide whether to place all information in one paragraph or two. Anyway, you are recommended to include up to five sentences.
  7. Conclusion. The last part should nicely pack your letter. Tell the admissions board why a particular applicant is the best candidate once again. Check whether you add all necessary contact details at the end of the paragraph again to keep in touch.
  8. Closing and signature. The best option for such letters is “Sincerely”. Make sure you put a signature. Even a digital one will make a recommendation letter more professional.

A College Recommendation Letter: Final Tips

Before writing a letter, have a look at these last-minute tips. They will make the entire process less tiring and more successful:

  • Do not use any clichés in the letter. The presence of any kind of clichés will make your writing more playful and friendly. Still, it is not what an admission board is looking for. Mind tone and style because they are crucial;
  • Ensure all contact details are correct and valid. While adding contact details to a recommendation letter, you need to ensure that they are up-to-date. It’s important in case the officers would like to get in touch with you and clarify some information;
  • Adhere to submission guidelines. Some educational establishments have a definite set of requirements that you need to meet while crafting a letter. They want you to answer specific questions. That’s why you need to be sure about all peculiarities of the guidelines of college that you are going to write for. Ask the student to provide a copy of all requirements before agreeing to prepare a recommendation letter;
  • Use a letterhead. A letter that is written on a professional letterhead looks more professional and can grab the attention of the committee. Most education establishments share a copy of their letterhead in case you can’t obtain it on your PC. It’s acceptable to use a company’s letterhead if you work in such. Mind keeping the document brief and sweet. You probably understand that the admissions board is looking through thousands of recommendation letters, so if it is too long, there is no chance the officers will read it to the very end.

How to Refuse Writing a College Recommendation Letter?

It is better to refuse to write such a document in case you do not feel comfortable enough. There are a few ways to say “no” and do not sound too offensive:

  • Identify the reason. It is better to say that you do not have enough time directly, for example, for other tasks or necessity to prepare three other similar letters. Offer a candidate who may help a young person instead of you. Also, feel free to say that absence of long-term cooperation with an applicant doesn’t allow you to describe all his/her abilities correctly. Maybe there is another person who is more suitable for crafting a letter. Once a student knows a real reason, there are no doubts about your candidature;
  • Professional decline. Say that crafting such a letter is a great honor for you, but still, you have some hesitations. You must not share your reasons if you do not want to. Instead, you can give a few recommendations in terms of another teacher so that he/she will be glad to prepare a letter for the student;
  • Stay positive. Do not focus on negative points in case you have to refuse to write a document. Remain positive and come up with the reasons in a more accurate way. Do not say that you decline because of a little student’s work in the class. Pay his/her attention that if you would feel like writing a letter, you will say this on your own.
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Once there is a request for a college recommendation letter, both a teacher and a student should be sure that the background of their relationships will allow them to craft a top-quality document. It should contain key features of character, common skills, and unusual competence. 

This letter is crucial for making the final decision, so an applicant has only one chance to stand out from the crowd. A college recommendation paper must be sweet and short at the same time to allow the admission committee to read it to the end and make the right conclusions about the student. 

If one wants to get on the list of a particular educational establishment, the recommendation letter must be written and formatted perfectly. Mind all mentioned above peculiarities to make sure a given chance was used for 100%.

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