Best Letter of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation (LORs) are ranked as the 5th most important part of your college application. Most LORs make no difference because they sound like everyone else’s. They don’t hurt, but they don’t help. To make sure you get LORs that actually help you get into a top college, follow these guidelines:

  1. Meet with your recommender either in person or by phone. Remind the person of who you are and where you are heading. Talk about stories/examples the recommender can put in the letter.
  2. Give the recommender a package of information that includes: examples of your academic work; your high school transcript; your resume; your personal essay (or a summary if you haven’t written it yet); specific examples of your accomplishments that the recommender can write about

The following is an outline of a great letter of recommendation:

  1. Introductory paragraph
    1. Who the recommender is and how that person knows the applicant.
    2. Statement that the applicant is in the top 5 or 10 numerically or the top 5% or 10% of comparable students, in a particular class, work load handled, etc. Something quantifying the student’s position in comparison to other students.
    3. A summary sentence of how it is this applicant stands out to you.
  2. 2-6 paragraphs telling stories about the applicant. Provide detailed examples of how this person stands out among the rest.
  3. If not already covered, make sure to insert examples of attributes that admissions committees care about. For example:
    1. Intellectual ability
    2. Intellectual curiosity
    3. Writing & research skills
    4. Analytical skills
    5. Positive character traits/Integrity
    6. Special skills
    7. Leadership
    8. Extracurricular involvement
  4. Conclusion: Mention anything the recommender knows about the student’s goals and his/her capacity to reach them.

Make sure to request your LORs asap if you haven’t already! The last thing you want is to have an incomplete application at deadline because you’re still waiting on a recommendation. Feel free to show this article to your recommenders for extra insurance that you get the BEST letters of recommendation ever!

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