By Rana Waxman Wondering how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation? It is easier than you think to get a letter of recommendation from your professor. Even if you are an online student due to Covid-19. That said, you want to pave the way by building a relationship with at least one professor first. This will help you with two key things It will make it easier for you to ask for a letter of recommendation from your professorEnsure the letter is personalized and stands out from the pack If you never built a relationship with a professor before, don’t stress. You don’t have to send a birthday card or learn how Prof X takes their coffee. Here are four simple steps that show you how to get a letter of recommendation from a professor. 1. 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. If you find approaching a new person stressful, remember this one won’t be a stranger. You will be in their class for several months and your professor will be happy to know someone is interested in what they are teaching. 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 2. PARTICIPATE IN CLASS Once you’ve made the initial introduction, take part in class to keep your presence known. This means you will need to attend class and be an active student, if not each time, then enough to be consistent. 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 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 3. Show a Solid work ethic 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. 4. GO TO OFFICE HOURS! This step is critical as it reinforces previous steps about getting a letter of recommendation. Even attending virtual office hours shows your willingness (again) to give and receive feedback. Also, it may help you and the professor track your progress. 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 These steps will help you to build a professional relationship with your professor. Once this happens, the professor knows about your best qualities and will be more invested in helping you grow your career. They will also have true things to write about and know how to recommend you to others. How to ask how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation? Now that you know how to get a letter of recommendation from a professor, the next step is to ask. You can do this by email as you may have to attach a specific form. Make sure before you do this that you have also: Read through the requirements for RecommendersUnderstand the purpose of the letter and point out what you needMake sure to give the professor time to write the letter by the due dateSend a follow up thank you note Do you have any other ideas for getting a great letter of recommendation? Share your tips in the comments below! About the author Whitney Lewis is currently earning her degree in professional and technical writing from Utah State University. She is excited to graduate so she can get back to her much-neglected reading list. She enjoys trying new things, and helping others do the same. In her lifestyle blog, she shares her wild perspective on life and honest experience about all the new things she tries.