The Proper Way to Ask For a Letter of Recommendation.

I was on Facebook the other night when my friend Christie posted…

“I find it extremely frustrating when students want letters of recommendation from me for college but lack the maturity to come and ask me themselves. Instead I get emails from their parents. Whatever will these kids do once they get into college??”

And I immediately thought, SERIOUSLY?!  So I thought I’d write a post on the ins-and-outs of asking for a letter of recommendation!  It never hurts to make sure your manners are in tip-top shape when it comes to your teachers!

  1. Go in person and ASK.  Yes, I know an email would be so much “easier”, but that is not going to fly with a teacher.  If you want them to take time away from their families, you need to face them eye-to-eye and ask!
  2. Provide the teacher with typed out specific instructions to help guide them.  They need to know their audience when writing, so let them know the following: What school it is for? What department? Who is the recipient of the letter? What is the purpose of the letter (admission, academic scholarship, etc.)? Where does the letter need to be mailed to?  Does it need to be sealed and signed on the back?  Don’t forget any important detail!  You want to give it all to them upfront.
  3. The more time you can give them the better…and by time, I don’t mean days, I mean weeks!
  4. A week out from the due date, kindly stop by and thank the teacher again and ask if there was anything else they needed from you.  It’s a nice way to stop by and give a friendly reminder and to check-in with them to see if they feel stumped because they are missing some key information.
  5. Once you receive the letter of recommendation, you write a thank you note THAT NIGHT!  Yep, a good old fashioned hand-written note.  Emails are not as authentic to teachers! 😉  And give them a good old handshake…for real! (It may sound funny, but your teacher’s jaw will probably fall on the floor and they will love you even more.  Teachers dig manners and will totally want to write another letter for you…for crying out loud, if they see you do this, they will want you as their own child!)

Whatever you do, don’t get mom or dad to ask the adult for the letter of recommendation!  And DON’T ask for a letter of recommendation via email.  HUGE no-no’s and I’m pretty sure there will probably be no extra effort put forth in your letter!  Teachers prefer face-to-face interaction, so go with it!  Let’s face it, their letter could be the deciding factor on the “ACCEPTED” stamp or “PASS” stamp.  Be genuine, grateful, and helpful every step of the way.

Good luck with those scholarship applications this year!

Be Fearless,




M O N T H L Y   G O S S I P   C O L U M N