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Almost every college that you apply to will ask for two to three recommendation letters from people who know your professional, academic, and/or personal character. These letters can take considerable time to write as they should be written professionally and offer a perspective on a certain part of your life, what you excel in, and how you overcome challenges.

One of the most important things not to do is ask your parents or other family members to write the recommendation letter. College admissions officers don’t want to hear about you from somebody that will only speak good about you. They want to hear from someone who you have impressed, worked for, or taken classes from so that they know what type of student you will be. But don’t worry, there are plenty of people that you can ask.

When thinking about who to ask to write your letter of recommendation, consider asking one of your teachers that you have worked with in school and who knows you on a personal level. You can also ask your school counselor, employer, coach, mentor, or another adult that will be excited to help you succeed. Asking someone who you have mutual respect for, knows your best skills, and is invested in your future will make your recommendation letter stand out to college admissions.

Here are some tips when asking for a recommendation letter:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Whomever you’re going to ask, be sure to ask at least a few months before the submission deadline.
  • Ask in person. Don’t send them an email or text them. Take advantage of the face to face time to show the person you ask how much the recommendation letter means to you.
  • Be sure that you have all of the necessary information that the writer needs. Some schools have specific forms that they have to fill out, some schools require it to be submitted online, and some schools will ask for the writer’s contact information and send them the required documents to their email.
  • Give the writer a postmarked envelope. If they have to mail the letter in, give them an addressed and stamped envelope for each college you apply to so the writer has one less thing to do and can focus on writing a great recommendation.
  • Waive your right to read the letter. The person you ask should be able to write a candid letter and feel comfortable writing it. You will be asking someone who you trust to say positive things about you anyway.
  • Send a thank-you note. It always helps to keep in touch with people and show them the amount of respect that they are giving you by writing the letter. Plus, you never know when you will need another one.

Need help getting started on your college search? Search by location, major, admission difficulty, and more with Peterson’s College Search.