Sample Recommendation Letters for College Applicants

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Many colleges, universities, and business schools request recommendation letters as part of the application process. Choosing the person to ask for your recommendation is often your first challenge because you want an honest letter that will improve your chances of being accepted. Also, if you are the person writing a letter of recommendation, it may be difficult to know where to begin. 

No matter which side you're on, reading through a few good letters of recommendation will certainly help. With these samples, you can make better decisions about whom to ask, what should be included, and take note of the best format for writing one.

Every college applicant has a different situation and your relationship with a student and recommender is also unique. For that reason, we're going to look at a few different scenarios that can be adapted to fit your needs.

Choosing the Right Person for a Recommendation

A good recommendation letter from a , college professor, or another academic reference can really help an applicant's chances of acceptance. Other sources of recommendations might include a club president, employer, community director, coach, or mentor.

The goal is to find someone who has had time to get to know you well. A person who has worked closely with you or known you for a significant period of time will have more to say and be able to offer specific examples to back up their opinions. On the other hand, someone who doesn't know you very well may struggle to come up with supporting details. The result might be a vague reference that doesn't do anything to make you stand out as a candidate. 

Selecting a letter writer from an advanced course, extra-curricular group, or volunteer experience is also a good idea. This shows that you are motivated and confident in your academic performance or willing to put in extra effort outside the typical classroom. Although there are a lot of different things that are considered during the college application process, previous academic performance and work ethic are among the most important. 

Recommendation Letter From an AP Professor

The following letter of recommendation was written for a college student who is also an undergraduate program applicant. The letter writer is the student's AP English professor, whose class other students may struggle with, so there are some extra benefits here. 

What makes this letter stand out? As you read this letter, note how the letter writer specifically mentions the student's outstanding work ethic and academic performance. He also discusses her leadership capability, her ability to multi-task, and her creativity. He even offers an example of her record of achievement—a novel project that she worked on with the rest of the class. Specific examples like this are a great way for the recommender to reinforce the main points of the letter. 

To Whom It May Concern:
Cheri Jackson is an extraordinary young woman. As her AP English Professor, I have seen many examples of her talent and have long been impressed by her diligence and work ethic. I understand that Cheri is applying to the undergraduate business program at your school. I would like to recommend her for the program.
Cheri has outstanding organizational skills. She is able to successfully complete multiple tasks with favorable results despite deadline pressure. As part of a semester project, she developed an innovative collaborative novel with her classmates. This book is now being considered for publication. Cheri not only headed the project, she ensured its success by demonstrating leadership abilities that her classmates both admired and respected.
I must also make note of Cheri's exceptional academic performance. Out of a class of 150 students, Cheri graduated with honors in the top 10. Her above-average performance is a direct result of her hard work and strong focus.
If your undergraduate business program is seeking superior candidates with a record of achievement, Cheri is an excellent choice. She has consistently demonstrated an ability to rise to any challenge that she must face.
To conclude, I would like to restate my strong recommendation for Cheri Jackson. If you have any further questions regarding Cheri's ability or this recommendation, please do not hesitate to me using the information on this letterhead.

Recommendation Letter From a Debate Coach

This letter was written by a high school teacher for an undergraduate business school applicant. The letter writer is very familiar with the student since they were both part of the school's debate team, an extra-curricular that demonstrates a drive in academics. 

What makes this letter stand out? Getting a letter from someone who is familiar with your classroom behavior and academic ability can show admissions committees that you are dedicated to your education. It also demonstrates that you have made good impressions on those in the educational community.

The content of this letter could be very beneficial to the applicant. The letter does a good job of demonstrating the applicant's motivation and self-discipline. It also cites specific examples to support the recommendation.

As you are reading this sample letter, take note of the required format for recommendations. The letter contains short paragraphs and multiple line breaks for easy readability. It also contains the name of the person who wrote it as well as information, which helps makes the letter look legit.

To Whom It May Concern:
Jenna Breck was a student in my debate class and has also been on my debate team for three years at Big Stone High School. I would definitely consider Jenna to be an ideal student. Over the years, she has earned my respect by consistently working hard to achieve high grades and set an example for other students.
The academics at Big Stone High School are rigorous and could be considered more challenging than academics at the average high school. Jenna not only kept up with all of the requirements, but also went above and beyond by seeking out more advanced courses like honor's algebra and AP chemistry.
Jenna is also a confident speaker and an outstanding debater. She has won several public speaking awards and consistently helped our debate team qualify for national tournaments. These achievements have been a direct result of Jenna's self-discipline and dedication to performing the required research and practice necessary for success in such pursuits.
I hold Jenna in the highest esteem and strongly recommend her for your undergraduate business program, where I feel confident that she will continue to apply herself to the best of her ability.
Amy Frank, Ph.D.
Big Stone High School

Recommendation Letter From Volunteer Experience

Many undergraduate business programs ask applicants to supply a recommendation letter from an employer or someone who knows how the applicant works. Not everyone has professional work experience, though. If you have never worked a 9 to 5 job, you can get a recommendation from a community leader or non-profit administrator. Though it is traditionally unpaid, a volunteer experience is still a work experience.

What makes this letter stand out? This sample letter demonstrates what a recommendation from a non-profit administrator might look like. The letter writer emphasizes the student's leadership and organizational skills, work ethic, and moral fiber. Although the letter doesn't touch on academics, it does tell the admissions committee who this student is as a person. Demonstrating personality can sometimes be just as important as showing good grades on a transcript.

To Whom It May Concern:
As the Director of the Bay Area Community Center, I work closely with many of the community volunteers. I consider Michael Thomas to be one of the most studious and responsible members of our organization. After three years time, I have come to know him well and would like to recommend him as a candidate for your undergraduate business program.
Michael is a dedicated member of the Bay Area community and has donated countless hours of his time to the Center. He has not only worked with members of the community, he has also helped to implement plans and programs that will enrich the lives of those around him.
Michael's leadership and organizational skills have been invaluable to these programs, most of which have been started from the ground up. For example, the children of the Bay Area are now able to benefit from a multitude of new after-school and tutoring programs, while the elderly members of our community can now apply for grocery deliveries that did not exist previously.
In my opinion, Michael's unwavering devotion to his community exemplifies strong moral fiber and character. He is a trustworthy individual and would be an excellent candidate for your business school.
John Flester
Director, Bay Area Community Center