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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

A good recommendation takes time to write. The letter provides decision-makers or employers with a clear and straightforward assessment of you from a perspective your recommender values and respect. Make sure the person writing your recommendation knows you and your credentials well. Knowing your Resident Advisor(s), Hall Director, Resident Director(s), Minority Peer Advisor(s), Academic Peer Advisor(s), faculty member, or other university administrators is highly suggested. If they know you well enough, they will write a knowledgeable recommendation for you. Remember, it is just as hard for this person to write a powerful recommendation for you unless they have had some kind of on-going relationship.

What you need to know and do

  • If the person knows you well enough they will not have any trouble writing a letter of recommendation for you. It is always advisable to ask for a recommendation in person. Set up an appointment to meet with them and make sure you discuss in detail why you need the letter of recommendation.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the position for which you need the recommendation is an essential first step. Study your qualities, skills, and experiences that distinguish you as a good contender for the position. You may need to make out a list of your strong points and share this list with the person writing your letter of recommendation.
  • Be very specific of what you expect to be included in the letter. Due date and time of the recommendation is important as it is necessary to give the person enough time to do his/her work. It is also important to communicate that you are required to hand deliver your recommendation in a sealed envelope.
  • Make sure you hold up your end of the bargain. It is not good to let any one write a recommendation for you and then end up not submitting your application. If, for any reason, you chose not to pursue the application for any of the Resident Education positions, please let him/her know.
  • Finally, aside from thanking them for writing the letter on your behalf, one of the best ways to express your gratitude is to let them know the outcome. Even in the event that you are unsuccessful, still write a note to thank them for their time.

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