If you’re a senior in the thick of college and scholarship applications, there’s one task you don’t want to leave until the last minute: asking for written recommendations.
It’s very possible that your college application will need to include a written recommendation from an adult in your life: a teacher, coach, boss, guidance counselor, etc. As soon as you know that you’ll need a recommendation, make a quick list of people you can ask. Here are a few tips to help you approach them graciously, and increase the chances that they’ll say yes.
Do your own asking. This is something you absolutely must do for yourself. Nothing says “not ready for college” like having your parent request a recommendation for you. Ask in person if it’s at all possible, but you can also call or send an email, if it’s more practical.
Be polite. Remember that you’re asking a favor of someone who is likely very busy. Be respectful and polite when you ask.
Give plenty of time. You’ll increase your chances of getting the recommendation if you give the person ample time to get it done—several weeks, if possible. Be sure you mention your deadline when you ask. Remember that teachers may have several recommendations to write, so all the more reason to ask early-on.
Give them information to go on. If there are any requirements around the recommendation – what traits of yours should be highlighted, for example—be sure to let them know.
Give a friendly reminder, if needed. Again, remember that people get busy, so if your deadline is approaching and you haven’t received anything, offer a politely-worded query as to whether they’ll still be able to complete your recommendation.
Remember to say “thanks.” You’ll seem like a total pro if you remember to thank the person once you’ve received their recommendation. Remembering to follow up in this way is a real sign of maturity that will take you far.