One of the most daunting parts of the college process is asking for letters of recommendation. However, these letters are a crucial part of many college applications. Having a trusted adult speak on your behalf gives college admissions officers confidence in your candidacy and may very well be the final push they need to decide to admit you. However, asking a teacher or employer to write on your behalf may feel awkward for many students. If you're having trouble, here are a few tips to help you.
1. Ask someone you know well
Choosing the right adult is one of the most essential parts of ensuring that your letter of recommendation is compelling. While you may feel pressured to ask the teacher who gave you the best grade, it is more important to ask the adult who knows you the best. Your transcript will speak to your academic strengths, so you should find an adult who can speak to your character and write something unique. If you feel awkward asking an adult, they may not be the best person to write your letter.
2. Ask politely
While Gen-Z has grown up using email for just about everything, some things can be better said one to one. Find a good time to ask them to write your letter face to face, whether it be a Zoom call or a socially distanced meeting. As you ask, be sure to explain why you have chosen to ask them to write your letter. Did you wish to pursue their field in college? Did you overcome challenges in their class? Do you feel that they are a professional mentor to you? Mentioning why you decided to ask them is both polite and can give them some initial ideas for their letter.
3. Give them ample time to write
If you want a persuasive letter, do not ask the week before your applications are due. Writing a compelling letter of recommendation takes time, so you should give your writer at least six to eight weeks to carefully plan and craft your letter.
4. Be sure to thank them
Writing a letter of recommendation can take a lot of effort. After your applications are submitted, be sure to write your letter writer a kind thank-you note. Additionally, be sure to keep them posted on your college process and on which school you ultimately choose. They will be invested in your success after spending time to help you!
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