how to ask a letter of recommendation

Some tend to believe that a letter of recommendation is the easiest part of the college application process. However, many students fail on this step due to asking inappropriately or not checking whether the letter was submitted. For you to avoid these unpleasant moments, we’ve compiled a list of steps for obtaining a letter of recommendation successfully.

Request for Recommendation Letter One Month Prior

Timing in this case is crucial. With deadlines approaching fast, it’s good to have the issue of recommendation letter covered one or two months prior. Explain the purpose of your request in an email and ask to meet up in person.

The second part is important for various reasons:

  • the professor will be able to distinguish you from the crowd of other students;
  • they will have a chance to ask you personal questions that will help to write the recommendation;
  • meeting in person will make a positive impression and prove that you take the process seriously and need a referral letter.

Check Two Weeks Prior

A week after your request, send the professor a thank you note to show your appreciation for them dedicating their time to working on your recommendation letter. However, never send any gifts if you don’t want to be misunderstood.

The next week, contact your college to check whether they’ve already received the letter. In case they haven’t, write an email to your professor including a thank you again and reminding them of the due date.

One week prior repeat the checking step and if the letter still hasn’t been submitted, meet the professor in person during their office hours. Make sure to do that at a set time when they expect visitors and not in their free time.

Worst Case Scenario

In case the worst has happened, and the letter wasn’t submitted in time, don’t give up. Contact the professor again and ask if they can send it as soon as possible while you email the admission office and explain the situation.

Usually, this never happens provided students follow the steps above. However, some immediately blame professors for forgetting that following up on the referral letter is the students’ responsibility. In case the letter was forgotten by the professor, they are bound to state that in the letter itself and apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Remember to respect your professors because they are doing you a favor. Never send emails late at night or approach professors during their time off-campus if you don’t want to come across as rude. If you follow all these steps, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your recommendation letter.