Are you worried about asking for college recommendation letters from your teachers?

It doesn't need to be a stressful process! College Life GIF by University of Florida

Check off this item on your "college bound" checklist using the following 6 tips.

Choose a Great Reference

A man saying,

When choosing a reference, think about who you think will respond positively to your request.

  • Do you have a teacher with whom you had a great relationship?

  • How about a coach who recognized your work ethic?

These are the kind of people who you want to think about as references! They'll be able to attest to your strengths and your potential for success.

They'll also be able to highlight your best qualities and present you as a multi-faceted person, not just a name on an application.


Who would NOT be a great reference?

Brag About Yourself!

School-aged child with long, dark hair, wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, flexing their muscles, with the caption

You know yourself best, right? Who's better to brag about yourself than you?

By creating a "brag sheet" of your accomplishments, activities, paid employment, and volunteer activities, you're giving your reference a snapshot of how awesome you are. You're also making it easy for them to write about your awesomeness!

Brag sheets can also give you food for thought when you're putting together your college essays, as well.


What are some examples that would be appropriate for a brag sheet?

Ask Early!

Mrs. Puff, a character from Sponge Bob, standing in front of the Dead Eye Hardware Store in Bikini Bottom.

As soon as you determine who you'll ask for a reference, make sure you ask them right away! The more time they have to write your letter of recommendation, the better the letter will be.

Giving your recommendation writer enough time to write you a letter is also good manners. If you only give the writer a few days, they might be turned off and write you a poor recommendation — or none at all!

Ask In Person

Two dark haired women seated beside one another. One is holding a pen and writing on a white notepad; the other has a laptop. Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Asking for a reference in person is a direct approach that can help show that you're serious about your college plans. If you're nervous, practice what you're going to say before you say it.

It's very likely that the person you're asking for help had to ask their teachers or counselors for recommendation letters when they were in high school, so they probably understand your nervousness!


How can you practice asking for a recommendation? Select all that apply.

Send A Formal Request

Young Black woman with long hair and orange sweater working on laptop. Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

Even though your recommender may have given you a verbal thumbs up, it's always good to follow up with an email, formally requesting the recommendation. This is also a great opportunity to send your brag sheet to them.

Make sure you spellcheck and grammar check your email before you send it, and always make sure you thank them for their time!

Send a Thank You Note

A red thank you card with white type on a marble countertop, with a silver fountain pen beside the card. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Follow up with a thank you note once the recommendation has been sent (you probably won't get a copy of the recommendation, but recommenders will often tell you once it's been sent).

It's not just good manners — it's also a way to show appreciation for those who helped you with a crucial step in the college admission process.

Take Action

Are you ready to ask for a recommendation?

Person, says


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte