September 19, 2017

Letters of Recommendation

Receiving letters of recommendation may seem to be very time consuming, but it is extremely vital to your success.  However, you don’t need to get new letters of recommendation every time you apply.  In fact, that is perhaps the easiest part about this segment.  It is the fact that you can get one or two letters of recommendation to do several things.


Finding Your Letter Writers

There are a few criteria for letters of recommendation.  These criteria are based off the fact that you don’t the wrong person going to bat for you.  For instance, you would not want to use a letter of recommendation from a peer, someone younger than you, or someone who may not have nice things to say.  It is important that you use someone with a high amount of credibility, and who would not regard you as a mere “friend.”

That said, a good letter of recommendation is best received from a teacher, professor, work manager, and other higher level people who have already come through major parts of the work force and academia.  You do not want someone who is not seasoned in either of these fields.  It is usually best not to use someone based on a purely social basis, as that does not show your colors, how well you work, your integrity, etc.


How To Ask

It is important that you use manners in asking for a letter of recommendation.  As you probably already remember from our essay section, writing is not always a strong suit.  That means that you should allow ample time for those you’ve asked to write their letters.  A good rule of thumb is two weeks for a one page letter.  If the letter must be two pages, then you should double that to four weeks.  The key here is not to rush your references, so make sure you leave ample time between the letters and the due date, just to avoid a time crunch.


Submitting the Letters

For all intents and purposes, you might simply just assume that you will be sending the letters with your application, but do make sure that you have copies… lots and lots of copies.  In fact, you should probably make at least 10 copies per letter.  One of the best ways to always ensure that you’ll have a professional copy on hand is to request the letter as an email attachment.  This way, you can make as many copies as you want, without having them look cheaply xeroxed.

Also, who says you can’t reuse your letters?  In fact, one of the best ways to mass produce your applications with as little work possible is to ask your references to right one that is for a generic list of colleges and scholarships.  This way, you can reuse all your letters, allowing you to submit applications with ease.  This is perhaps the most efficient way to do it.

However, one thing to consider is that if a reviewer sees that this letter could be purposed for just about any application, then that might sacrifice a tad bit of credibility.  So, if you have a heavy $40,000 scholarship on the line, you may just want to get a letter that is written specifically for that college or scholarship provider.



Overall, getting letters of recommendation is not a difficult task if you do it methodically and keep up with your deadlines.  Don’t rush your references, as this may be very annoying to them, and it might reflect in their letter.  Also, you should consider to have your references send the letter in an email, which would allow you to copy them over and over.  The first purpose is so that you have spares, and the second is so that you can send each to multiple institutions.