Recommendation letters are letters of recommendation written by professors to support students applying for college or university programs, scholarships, fellowships, internships, graduate school admissions, and jobs. These letters provide evidence of a student’s academic ability and performance in college classes. As such, they are essential components of college applications. If you are pursuing an undergraduate degree or looking to land an internship or a job after college, chances are you will need recommendation letters from your teachers. While most schools do not require application candidates to have recommendation letters before applying to their programs of choice, some schools do ask for them. Knowing how to get recommendation letters can help you stand out from the competition when applying for college admission or for a job opportunity. What is a letter of recommendation? A letter of recommendation is a written document provided by a third party recommender (e.g., teacher, employer) that outlines the positive attributes of a person and provides feedback on their suitability for a given job or position. In many cases, letters of recommendation are required to obtain employment or admission to a specific program. This type of recommendation can play an important role in your application and should be given consideration when making decisions about whether or not to accept an applicant into a school, college, or university. A strong letter of recommendation can help an applicant stand out from the crowd and increase their chances of being accepted into a program of interest. It’s vital that you understand what a letter of recommendation is and why it is so important. In addition to providing feedback on your application, letters of recommendation can serve as references on your application and in future job applications. They can also be instrumental in helping you gain access to scholarships and other opportunities. When Should I Ask for a Recommendation Letter? A great recommendation letter is a valuable tool that college admission officers use to gauge a student’s potential so you can start asking in your senior year. Asking for a recommendation letter from your professor is an important step in the application process, but it shouldn’t be done too early or too late for the due date. It’s best to schedule a meeting with your instructor to discuss your qualifications and goals. During the meeting, your professor should be able to provide input on your application, which could include relevant courses you completed and relevant volunteer or extracurricular experiences. After discussing your application, your professor should take time to draft a recommendation letter. It’s important to follow up with your professor after submitting the letter of recommendation on time so they have time to properly prepare for the application deadline. 4 Ways On How To Get A Letter Of Recommendation From A Professor If you’re looking to get a good letter of recommendation from your professor, there are a few steps you can take. INTRODUCE YOURSELF While your professor has a class list, you’ll want to introduce yourself. This introduction shows your professor that you are friendly, serious about the topic, and can take initiative. All excellent qualities for the letter of recommendation you plan to ask for later. When requesting a letter of recommendation from your professor, it is essential to explain why you would benefit from such a recommendation. You should show proof of your academic achievements, such as test scores or high grades with your academic subjects or awards. Explain any extracurricular activities you’ve been involved in and highlight any unique qualities or skills that make you stand out from other students. When asking for a reference letter, be sure to show enthusiasm for the subject matter. A few ideas for how to break the ice are: Ask a question about the class or syllabus that was not already answeredIf an online student, reach out in a chat, the message board or emailAttend virtual or in-person office hoursFill in these blanks: Hi, my name is _________. I’m really excited about your class because I want to go into _________. What’s your advice on how to get into that field?Ask your professor if they have any suggestions for how to do well in their class PARTICIPATE IN CLASS It’s important to be an active participant in class by attending lectures, completing assignments, and engaging in discussion. This will demonstrate your knowledge of the subject matter and show that you are serious about learning. It’s also important to develop a rapport with your professor by asking questions and offering thoughtful input. Class participation through the semester allows your professor the chance to observe and interact with you. This makes their job of writing a letter of recommendation easier. To participate, you could: Answer questions by raising your hand or asking in the chat or email if onlineShare your thoughts while allowing others to do the sameBe a volunteer if the chance arisesWhen the professor asks for help, offerTake on a leader role in group projects SHOW A SOLID WORK ETHIC A letter of recommendation from your professor is a crucial part of the application process. However, it isn’t just about describing your academic abilities; it’s also about showing how committed you are to your studies. So be sure to show that you are willing to put in the necessary effort by arriving on time for all of your classes and staying after for any additional activities. Additionally, ask for help if you need it, as professors like to see students taking initiative and being proactive in their own success. You can wow a professor (and employer) when you show a strong work ethic, even though you are also aiming for good grades. To do this over time, you should: Do your homework on timeMake sure you prepare for the next classStudy for testsAsk for help if you need itNever leave a project for the last minute This behind-the-scenes work will reinforce that you are serious about your goals and can put in the effort to reach them. As a result, even if you don’t get straight A’s, a professor can still comment on positives. How you persist, show good character, respect deadlines, and are open to feedback. GO TO OFFICE HOURS Office hours is an appropriate time and provide a good time and opportunity to connect with your professor and build a strong relationship. You can learn more about your coursework and ask any questions you have about the class or your research interests. It’s also an ideal time to request a letter of recommendation. Explain to your professor why you need the letter and what it will be used for. Let them know that you value their opinion and trust their judgement. Finally, thank them for their time and consideration. Here are some good office-hour topics: Career adviceAsk them how they got into the field and what they likeTap your professor for any insight into available internshipsSee if there are any opportunities to help out with researchTalk to them about what you like about the field and your goals What Makes a Good Recommendation Letter? In it, you should highlight your academic accomplishments and discuss how you have gone above and beyond in the class. You can mention any extracurricular activities or projects you were involved with and describe your attitude and work ethic in the professor’s class. Finally, provide evidence of how you applied what was learned in the course to real-life situations. A good recommendation letter will show that you are a responsible, reliable student who can be an asset to any college or university program. There are some recommendation letter template you can check out to get some few ideas. How can I approach my professor to ask for a letter of recommendation? Do you know how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation? If you are looking to ask your professor for a letter of recommendation, the best way is to ensure that they know who you are and that there is a good relationship between the two of you. Reach out to your professor in person, in person handing a handwritten note or through email with the core subject and politely request if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. When approaching your recommender, make sure to provide them with enough information about yourself such as your academic achievements and extracurricular activities. This will help them write a comprehensive letter of recommendation that can truly showcase your accomplishments and potential. Finally, when all is said and done, don’t forget to send a thank you note! It’s always a good idea to show your gratitude and to acknowledge your professor’s time and effort in writing the letter of recommendation for you. Now that you know how to get a letter of recommendation from a professor, there is no reason why you cannot ask your favorite professor to write a letter of recommendation for you. It is important to understand that letters of recommendation are not cut and dry. Admissions officers are sometimes very sensitive about this. They come with varying degrees of importance depending on the context of the application. A well-written letter of recommendation can make all the difference, though. So, start approaching professors now and get your letters of recommendation ready! Do you have any other ideas for getting a great letter of recommendation? Share your tips in the comments below!