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A Guide to Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter


College or universities often require one or two recommendation letters from a high school teacher or even an employer. Recommendation letters help give the admission officers some information that are not available in your application. Some of these information include your attitudes toward learning, and if you are a dedicated student.  

A good recommendation letter should mention your academic history, interests, and goals. Specifically, it should express your academic participation and performance, as well as your leadership skills. Hence, the person giving the recommendation letter must know you well enough. This is important because recommendation letters help you stand out from the rest of the applicants.  

Recommendation letters may make or break your college application, so here are some tips you may ask your teacher or employer to follow on how to write an effective recommendation letter.  

1. Explain the relationship with the student 

A Guide to Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter

Knowing the relationship between the teacher/employer and the student will help give the admission officers an idea on what to expect in the letter. If you asked your previous teacher to write a letter, then they will have a basis on why the teacher mentioned all the qualities he/she wrote. If you asked your employer, then the admission committee will expect more information about your work ethic and other leadership skills rather than your academic performance.  If you have known the person for a long time, be sure to emphasize this. 

2. Focus on the school 

A Guide to Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter 

The person giving the recommendation letter should know what school you want to apply. This is particularly important because they should mention how you would fit into the university or college. Specifically, how your academic performance and other qualities will benefit and contribute to the university.  

3. Mention the student’s academic capacity 

A Guide to Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter

If your previous teacher wrote the letter, he/she should include your academic capacity. As a teacher, they have a first-hand experience on how you were performing as a student.  

If you asked your employer, he/she can mention their expectations on how you perform in an academic environment based on other evidence outside this environment.  

This information will help give the admissions officers an idea on how you would perform as a student if you were to enroll in their university or college.  

4. Discuss the student’s strengths 

A Guide to Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter

Ask your teacher/employer to discuss the strengths you have as a student or an employee. Again, the admission committee receives hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. Knowing what qualities and strengths you have will give you an edge in your application. 

5. Remain positive 

A Guide to Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter

Overall, the tone of the recommendation letter should be positive and not dry. Your teacher/employer should know how badly you want to get into this specific university or college. They should be able to help you stand out from the rest of the applicants and convince the officers to accept you, and this is one way of achieving that.  State that you think the person is a strong candidate. 

Knowing what to ask from your teacher/employer is helpful, but this will also depend on who you will ask to write a letter for you. Make sure that you make the process of writing a letter easy for them - provide them with the necessary details and help them out when they need any other information. But more than a recommendation letter, make sure that you also do your part on the other aspects of the application process.  

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