How to Get a Shining Letter of Recommendation

A good letter of recommendation most certainly helped you get into the college-of-your-choice, but a rec letter’s importance just doesn’t diminish after you receive your acceptance letter. Rec letters are actually needed for a numerous of different things throughout college and long after earning your degree—they can be the determining factor if whether you get a mid-semester scholarship, internship, whether you get into graduate school, medical school, or whether you get that job you’re dying to have. That said, who you ask and when you ask will determine whether you get a mediocre letter or a great one. To make the process a little bit easier, follow these tips below.

Work on Building Relationships Early. The best rec letter writers are credible and “authoritative” figures who truly know you. That said, it’s important that you make an effort to get close to influential people as early as your freshmen year—even if you don’t need your letter until your junior or senior year. While some of these relationships will naturally develop over time, you can try these tips in order to get things started—

  • While in class, try you best to make your presence known. You don’t want to be just another number to your professor. If the class is too big or you’re on the shy side to speak up in class, go to your professor’s office hours and introduce yourself. Attending your professor’s office hours for help on assignments and for advice will give your professor ample opportunity to get to know you on a one-on-one level. *Additional note: Try to establish relationships with professors who you actually like and that you have a decent academic standing with. Good luck trying to get a rec letter from a professor whose class you constantly get c’s in.
  • Join a club/ organization and get to know your advisors. Since you will meet on a weekly basis and the group meetings are much smaller than a lecture-sized class, you will have a better chance of establishing a relationship. And if you continue to participate in the club all throughout college, your club advisor will have all that much more good things to write about you.
  • Your employer(s) is also another great resource to turn to. It doesn’t matter if you work at the school cafeteria, library or a retail store your employer is an excellent person who can demonstrate your strong work-ethic.
  • Others who may be able to give you a good rec letter are coaches, department heads, and guidance counselors. Whatever you do, it’s recommended to stay clear from family members. These types of rec letters are not welcomed by employers or admission officers because their biased.

Give them Adequate Time to Write It.  After choosing the person (or persons) to write your rec letter make sure that you give them notice at least a month in advance. Give them the due date—it may even be wise to give them an earlier due date in case your letter writer needs more time or forgets.  Professors especially are busy people and won’t be able to get to it right away. That said, it’s important that you make the task for them as easy as possible. Give them supplemental materials such as your resume and carefully explain what it is that you need your rec letter for. You can also tell your letter writer what you would like him or her to focus on—academics, people skills, etc.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99