Requesting Letters: Dos & Don'ts
As a high school student, there will come a time when you will need a letter of recommendation from a coach or faculty member. Following the appropriate steps will ensure you receive a glowing letter of recommendation in a timely manner. Not following the appropriate steps may result in a poor recommendation, a late recommendation, or no recommendation at all. Read on to learn more about the basics of requesting letters.
- Request an appointment with your potential recommender ahead of time.
- Provide a specific due date.
- Allow 2-3 weeks for your recommender to submit their letter.
- Request a letter from someone you currently interact with on an academic and/or professional level.
- Express your appreciation for their time and willingness to write a letter for you.
- Remind your potential recommender of significant, positive interactions that you have had in the past.
- Provide the following: Résumé - Summary of strengths/weaknesses/goals - Summary of interests/abilities that you would like highlighted in your letter.
- Allow two weeks before you provide a kind, friendly reminder to your recommender.
- Provide an addressed and stamped envelope if you need them to mail your letter.
- Write a thank you card to your recommender once they have completed your letter.
- Wait until the last minute to request a letter.
- Demand a letter from your potential recommender.
- Become angry or rude if a potential recommender declines to write a letter for you.
- Demand or dictate what the recommender should include in their letter.
- Do not pester or rush your recommender.
- Procrastination on your part is not an emergency on their part.
- If someone declines your request for a letter, ask them if they would be willing to provide constructive criticism regarding their decision. Reflect on their feedback and ask for ways in which you can improve.
- Let your recommender know if you plan to use their letter for multiple colleges, scholarships, leadership programs, and/or employment. This will help them tailor their letter accordingly.
- Let your recommender know once you have been admitted to a university, they will want to hear about your success!