Tips for Asking Teachers for Recommendation Letters

Below are some helpful hints on how to ask your teachers for a letter of recommendation:

  • Ask nicely. Approach your teacher in person and explain what you are applying for (and why), and ask whether s/he/they might be willing to write you a letter of support.

  • Ask what kind of letter you might get! You need to know whether it’ll be a strong letter, or one that is perhaps less in-depth. You deserve to know this, and it may affect whether or not you should ask someone else. Don’t worry – most teachers are able to be honest and nice about what kind of letter they might be able to write. You must find out, early on, so that your chances of success are as high as possible

  • When you don’t know your teacher very well on a personal level, it is helpful to explain why you would like them to write the letter. Be prepared for questions that your teacher may ask you:

    • Why did you ask me to submit a letter on your behalf?

    • What lesson/project, etc. did you enjoy the most in my class ? Why was this your favorite?

    • In what areas do you feel this class helped you to grow?

    • How were you challenged in any areas of the class?

    • Did this class spark an interest in learning more about this subject area? If so, how?

    • What are your academic strengths?

    • What are your personal strengths?

    • What are some specific things you hope I discuss in your letter?

  • Say ‘Thank you’ – It is classy and professional to say thanks to whoever agrees to write letters of recommendation for you. It will leave a very positive and lasting impression (and you never know when you will need another letter…). As a minimum, send a short ‘thank you’ email.