Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

By: Yara Oliveira

Writing an email to teachers or professionals can be scary, especially asking for a favor, but don’t worry with this guide, you’ll crush any email you have to send. When applying to colleges through the Common App or any individual school application system, they will ask for at least 2 letters of recommendations. These are crucial for your admissions counselor to see another perspective of you that can’t be conveyed through your own essays. When picking who to ask, make sure it is a trusted professional who knows you well. The first two required letters will usually have to be from core teachers (English, Math, Science, or Social Studies). Make sure who you’re asking knows your work ethic and can speak to some of your accomplishments and goals. If you don’t know the teacher well enough, consider also attaching your resume and a statement about your goals to the email. Teachers are often eager to write these letters so you don’t have to be scared! There is also an optional third letter that the Common App and Coalition Application allows for. This can be for your boss, mentor, or any professional in your life that can speak to your values and personality. The third letter is by no means necessary, but it can’t hurt so if you have someone in mind, go ahead and send them an email asking for one! If possible, you can also ask your recommender in person. You can follow this template either way. 

Now that you’ve picked who you’re going to ask, let’s get to the email! When writing, remember that your recommender is a busy person so keep it short, kind, and to the point. 

Part of email  Example
Subject – your last name, topic Smith, letter of recommendation 
Greeting – time of day and their title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) with last name Good afternoon Ms.Hall,

[press enter]

Topic you are talking about (if they do not know you, introduce yourself)  I’m Jane Smith and I was in your history class last year. (add details about what you found challenging in the class, why you’re interested in that course, why you chose them)
Ask the question I loved being in your class and learning more about US history so much that I was wondering if you could write me a letter of recommendation for college. 
Wrap up the topic: mention you won’t be reading the letter, give them a way out, and thank them for their time The letter is uploaded directly on Common App so I won’t see it, I would just like you to be truthful about my work ethic and goals. I know you’re busy so if you can’t write this letter, I understand. Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it. 

[press enter]


Thanks for your time, sincerely, cordially,


Jane Smith

BAM you just mastered the email. Of course it depends on who you are emailing and what it is about but the more you practice, the better you’ll be. If they agree to write the letter of recommendation, send a follow up email with the logistical details (date its due, where to submit) so the teacher is aware. Remember to give teachers plenty of time to write the letter so it is beautifully crafted and they aren’t rushed. Good luck and have fun! 

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