Besides the college admissions essay, recommendation letters are one of the most important aspects of college entrance. In some cases, colleges are so sought after that even a good admissions essay isn’t enough. Those students may also need recommendation letters to help themselves stand apart from the rest of the students.
It’s important that you know the applicant and have a clear understanding of their goals and dreams and overall personality. If a recommendation letter is written about someone you hardly know, this will show in the letter and it will most likely be overlooked. That being said, be sure to mention how you know the applicant. The length of time that you’ve known the applicant is also important information to include.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the recommendation letter is for, so that you can properly and fully answer to the recommendation. The main purpose of the letter is to attest to the capabilities as well as the overall character of the candidate.
Obtain and review the applicant’s rsum. This should include information about his or her GPA, activities, awards, leadership roles, community service, employment experience and special skills. Use this information in your recommendation.
Make sure you know who you’re addressing in the letter. It is less professional and appealing to address the letter to a committee or to whom it may concern. Instead, address it directly to the person it’s meant for (Dear Mr. Robertson, etc).
Type the letter in a word processing software, such as MS Word or WordPerfect and be sure to run the spell check when it’s completed. Go over the letter for grammatical errors (although the word processing software should offer this capability too) or have someone else read it and edit it. You’re trying to impress with this recommendation letter, so it’s important that there be no spelling or grammatical errors present.
Make sure you find out how the letter must be mailed. In many cases, it will need to be mailed in an official envelope from your institution, however, it will sometimes only need to be included with the application. If the applicant is including the letter with their application, provide them the letter in a sealed envelope.
Keep the deadline in mind. You should know the deadline before you start on the letter and the student will have hopefully given you an adequate amount of time to complete the letter. It’s best if you turn the letter in as soon as possible. Don’t forget to save the letter just in case the student returns asking for another copy. This will also help you write your next recommendation letter. If the student is asking for a separate recommendation letter to more than one place, use the first letter to reiterate certain information in each letter, however, you may tailor each letter to the specific school it’s being written for.
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