Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

Asking a professor or teacher for a letter of recommendation is probably one of the scariest things students face. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some ways in which you can approach your referee.

- Choose an appropriate referee: You must ensure you choose a referee who knows you and has interacted with you both in and outside of class. It is essential to choose someone who can write about you holistically; mentioning your academic as well as extracurricular activities in school or college.

- Be Concise: Avoid rambling. Instead give your referee a concise gist of what you would like them to mention. This could be any particular event or extracurricular activity you have participated in school/college which you want included in your LOR.

- Take a prior appointment: No one likes being interrupted in the middle of work so take a prior appointment with your referee. This also makes you come across as more professional.

- Write it down: Ideally you should jot down points on what you would like your letter of recommendation to cover. That will make it easier for you to discuss the same with your referee instead of trying to recall points while sitting in front of them. However remember to put these across as suggestions and requests rather than demands!

- Word Limit: Most LORs have a word limit so ensure you tell your referee about it. Even without a word limit an ideal LOR should be between 500-700 words.

- Give it time: Do remember that most referees will have a lot of LORs to write in addition to other work so approach your referee well in time; usually 5-6 weeks before you actually want the LOR.

- Give them details: Where does the LOR need to go? Will multiple copies be required? What is the subject you are applying for? Its best to give these details beforehand so that your referee has all information before they sit down to write your recommendation.

- Thank them: Irrespective of whether they agree to be your referee or not, you must drop them a thank you email.

If you do succeed getting admission in your chosen institution, ensure you let your referee know. Remember you might require recommendations later in life as well and building a strong association with your referee shall stand you in good stead later on.

University Options assists students with the entire application process from choosing universities to guidance on essays as well as post application follow up.

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