What can I do to make sure I get good letters of recommendation? 

Letters of Recommendation 

Letters of recommendation are an opportunity for colleges to learn information about you that may not be revealed by your grades or test scores. Recommendations are a chance to highlight your personal characteristics and work ethic and show colleges who is willing to speak on your behalf. Most colleges will require a letter of recommendation from your guidance counselor and at least one teacher. You can often provide additional recommendations from community members who know you well, such as a coach, mentor, spiritual leader or supervisor. 

Tips for Getting Recommendations 
  • Ask for recommendations in person. Talk to anyone you are requesting a recommendation from about your strengths, any challenges you have overcome and why you want to attend each college. If you are asking a teacher, highlight positive work you completed in his/her class. 

  • Request recommendations early. Teachers might be writing recommendations for multiple students. Asking early gives them time to write a strong recommendation and ensures that you meet application deadlines. 

  • Provide references with a resume highlighting your accomplishments. This will give them an overview of some of the other activities and responsibilities that you balanced during your high school career.

  • Make sure your references know the deadline(s) for recommendations for each college they might be sending a recommendation to. 

  • Write thank-you notes to your references. Once you have decided which college to attend, let your references know and thank them for their support. 

  • Get recommendations related to areas of interest. If you are applying to a program related to a hobby or special interest, consider getting a supplemental recommendation from a teacher, instructor or mentor connected to your area of interest. For example, get your photography teacher to write a recommendation to a Fine Arts program or a science teacher for a STEM-related program. 


Using NAVIANCE e-Docs, you can electronically request recommendations and track when they have been sent. Be sure to speak with an individual about sending a letter of recommendation before sending an electronic request.