How to Ask for College Recommendation Letters- Special Replay

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This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Ask for College Recommendation Letters- Special Replay.

How to Ask for College Recommendation Letters

How to Ask for College Recommendation Letters

7Sisters’ Vicki spent eighteen years as an academic advisor to the local homeschool juniors and seniors. Over time, she wrote many, many college recommendation letters for her college-bound seniors. She also has talked with advisors and teachers who have written these important letters.

SO, even if you do not have a homeschooler senior who is headed for college OR your teen is not a senior yet, listen in on this episode. They will be facing the college application process eventually. Vicki shares from her experience and the experiences of her friends over a couple of decades of writing hundreds of college-recommendation letters (and other favors for folks).

Step 1: Ask.

Do not command: “I need you to do something.”

Vicki and her teacher/advisor friends have had many experiences with teens politely asking for recommendation letters. They have also had experiences where teens literally say, “I need you to write me a college recommendation”. SOOOO:

Instead ask: “Could you do me a favor?” OR “Could I impose on you for a favor?” Then add: “Please”.

A polite request will usually earn a letter that is happily written with lots of good detail. A command will get the minimal effort required for the task- just sayin’.

Step 2: Make it easy for the recommender to write the letter.

Give the recommender a write-up of your accomplishments or special memories you have together that will make a good recommendation story. Great recommendation stories are based on narratives, not just statements like: Sally is a great student.

A good list of accomplishments or a paragraph about special memories together will help the recommender write a great story about you. This will give the recommendation letter sparkle. (Also, the write-up will help jog their memories- sometimes it’s hard to remember everything when one is put on the spot.)

Step 3: Provide the resources for sending that information.

If the recommendation is supposed to be a mailed letter, give a self-address, stamped envelope to the recommender. If it is an online recommendation, make sure they have any digital information they need such as:

  • what institution will send emails requesting information
  • whether they are will be considered a recommender, teacher or advisor

Most colleges these days want digital recommendation letters. It helps if you clearly explain which format their recommendation letter will need to be.

Step 4: Do not be a cranky nag.

If the person is running late, ask if there is anything you need to do to help. However, do NOT nag. That just makes things worse. If you need to get a backup recommender, do that. However, most recommenders get the job done quickly.

Step 5: After the favor is done, say “thank you”.

You never know if you will ever need another favor, so leave a feeling of gratitude…do not burn bridges. Remember, you may need a second favor. If you have been pushy or rude, your recommender may not be happy about helping out again.

Besides, showing gratitude is always the right thing to do.

Step 6: Return the favor.

This is not the same as buying a favor. It is a way to show appreciation. For instance: Make the “thank you” a written thank you note. Snail mailed. It is a powerful way to show appreciation.

If you had asked a big favor (such as making your request at the last minute) bring some cookies or some other show of appreciation.

Other notes:

  • Be sure to ask for the favor with plenty of time.
  • Be sure to ask in private (not in front of a bunch of people).

Join Vicki for a quick discussion on asking for college recommendation letters. You’ll enjoy this episode with more information on preparing for college. Also, enjoy this post!

12 Steps to Choosing a College Major


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How to Ask for College Recommendation Letters

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