Tips for Your Students that want you to Write them a Letter of Recommendation

I saw an article recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education that discussed what a Professor wanted from students that wanted him to write a letter of recommendation for them. These tips also would be very beneficial for Counselors that have students asking them to write letters of recommendations for them.

They are:

1. The student should supply you with everything you need for the letter: The student should provide you with a coherent draft of their cover letter and resume which includes all the pertinent information. You shouldn’t have to go out and search for anything. You can then help them put it into the most presentable format that presents them in the best light, but they should know that you don’t have the time to go out and search out information. Remind them that you are writing many letters for your students.

2. The student should provide some direction to you: If there is anything the student really wants you to emphasize in the letter they should tell you that. Possibly they are applying for a specific program and need their experience in that area to be highlighted. You won’t know that unless they tell you. Again, you are writing many letters for your students and although I’m sure you love every one their accomplishments when looking at hundreds of resumes can tend to blend together. Without specific guidance, you might focus on their writing and give short shrift to something more important to their application.

3.They need to be clear to you about the deadline for the letter (and give you enough time to write it):
No one likes getting last-minute recommendation requests, but unfortunately they happen, particularly with high school students. Eleventh-hour labor typically is not going to produce your best work. When the student approaches you go over the deadline they need it back and let them know if it is realistic. Be honest with them if they need it tomorrow and tell them you can’t do that. We all want what is best for our students but if they procrastinated until the last minute that is their fault, not yours.

Here is the original piece: How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter