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Letters of Recommendation


How important are recommendation letters in a college application? According to William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, they are "extremely important."

If you're a student, examples of great letters of recommendation can help you understand how to get strong letters yourself from your teachers. If you're a teacher, the examples in this guide will inspire you to support your students strongly as they apply to college. Keep reading for four excellent letters from teachers that will get anyone into college , along with expert analysis on why they're so strong.

Important Note: Are you looking for job recommendation letters? If so, check out my great post here!

First, let's understand the role of recommendation letters in your application.

Why are Recommendation Letters Important?

The majority of admissions officers at four-year colleges, especially private schools, emphasize that their process is holistic . They seek to gain a sense of the student as a "whole person," rather than focusing on pieces of who she is based solely on grades and test scores. Since they rarely meet the student in person, the recommendation letters, along with the student's own personal essay, play a huge role in illuminating her intellectual and personal qualities.

That's why recommendation letters from teachers, especially those who know their students well, carry a great deal of weight in applications. A letter that expresses a strong vote of support, as well as highlights a student's impressive academic and personal strengths , can have a powerful effect on that student's chances of admission.

Let's look at some samples of strong recommendation letters, one from an English teacher, another from a physics teacher, the third from a history teacher, and the final one from a math teacher. Then we'll break down exactly why these letters of recommendation are effective.

The first example recommends Sara, a senior who loves to write and read poetry.

Sample Letter #1: Sara the Poet

Dear Admissions Committee, I had the pleasure of teaching Sara in her 11th grade honors English class at Mark Twain High School. From the first day of class, Sara impressed me with her ability to be articulate about difficult concepts and texts, her sensitivity to the nuances within literature, and her passion for reading, writing, and creative expression- both in and out of the classroom. Sara is a talented literary critic and poet, and she has my highest recommendation as a student and writer. Sara is talented at considering the subtleties within literature and the purpose behind authors' works. She produced an extraordinary year-long thesis paper on creative identity development, in which she compared works from three different time periods and synthesized cultural and historical perspectives to inform her analysis. When called upon to give her thesis defense in front of her peers, Sara spoke clearly and eloquently about her conclusions and responded to questions in a thoughtful way. Outside of the classroom, Sara is dedicated to her literary pursuits, especially to poetry. She publishes her poetry in our school's literary magazine, as well as in online magazines. She is an insightful, sensitive, and deeply self-aware individual driven to explore art, writing, and a deeper understanding of the human condition. Throughout the year Sara was an active participant in our discussions, and she always supported her peers. Her caring nature and personality allow her to work well with others in a team setting, as she always respects others' opinions even when they differ from her own. When we held a class debate about gun laws, Sara opted to speak for the side opposite her own views. She explained her choice as motivated by a desire to put herself in other people's shoes, view the issues from a new perspective, and gain a clearer sense of the issue from all angles. Throughout the year, Sara demonstrated this openness to and empathy for the opinions, feelings, and perspectives of others, along with shrewd powers of observation, all qualities that makes her outstanding as a student of literature and burgeoning writer. I am certain that Sara is going to continue to do great and creative things in her future. I highly recommend her for admission to your undergraduate program. She is talented, caring, intuitive, dedicated, and focused in her pursuits. Sara consistently seeks out constructive feedback so she can improve her writing skills, which is a rare and impressive quality in a high school student. Sara is truly a stand-out individual who will impress everyone she meets. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at callmeclemens[email protected] Sincerely, Ms. Scribe English Teacher Mark Twain High School

This is a thorough, glowing recommendation for a student that Ms. Scribe clearly knows well. What other features make it stand out as a strong letter of rec?


The Breakdown

Ms. Scribe has a high opinion of Sara and her skills at writing and literary analysis. One way that she expresses this is by using powerful and specific language. She doesn't merely say Sara is a good writer. She says she's articulate about difficult concepts and sensitive to the nuances within literature. She calls her insightful and self-aware with shrewd powers of observation.

These descriptors don't happen by accident. Ms. Scribe took the time to choose her words carefully , and that effort paid off with a strong letter that captures Sara's special qualities.

Ms. Scribe also supports her characterization of Sara with examples . She describes her thesis paper and how she responded to questions thoughtfully under the pressured situation of her thesis defense. She gives the example of the debate on gun laws to illustrate Sara's openness to many different points of view.

In addition to illuminating her intellectual and personal strengths and supporting them with specific examples, Ms. Scribe speaks to Sara's goals for the future. She points out that she is talented at writing, poetry specifically, and that she is committed to continuing to improve as a writer in her future.

This letter, by virtue of its wording, length, and specificity, shows that Ms. Scribe took the time and effort to recommend Sara thoughtfully and with conviction. The fact that she knows Sara well and is committed to helping her application succeed with a thoughtful letter further adds weight to her assessment.

This letter would be a boon to Sara's application, especially if she's applying to study writing or English. She clearly impressed her English teacher and, in return, got a memorable, complimentary letter of recommendation for her college application.

This next example is similarly enthusiastic and detailed. It's for a student applying to an engineering program.

university application reference letter sample

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Sample Letter #2: Stacy the Engineer

Dear Admissions Committee, It is a great pleasure to recommend Stacy for admission to your engineering program. She is one of the most exceptional students I have encountered in my 15 years of teaching. I taught Stacy in my 11th grade honors physics class and advised her in Robotics Club. I am not surprised to find out she is now ranked at the top of an extraordinarily capable class of seniors. She has a keen interest in and talent for physics, math, and scientific inquiry. Her advanced skills and passion for the subject make her an ideal fit for your rigorous engineering program. Stacy is a perceptive, sharp, quick individual with a high aptitude for math and science. She is driven to understand how things work, whether they be the old computer hard drives in the school library or the forces that hold our universe together. Her final project in class was especially impressive, an investigation of frequency-dependent sound absorption, an idea that she said was sparked by not wanting to bother her parents with her hours of guitar practice at home. She's been a strong leader in Robotics Club, eager to share her knowledge with others and learn new skills. I have the students in the club prepare lessons and take turns leading our after-school meetings. When it was Stacy's turn, she showed up prepared with a fascinating lecture on lunar nautics and fun activities that got everyone moving and talking. She was our only student teacher to be met with much deserved applause at the end of her lesson. Stacy's personal strengths are as impressive as her intellectual accomplishments. She's an active, outgoing presence in class with a great sense of humor. Stacy's the perfect person to get a group project rolling, but she also knows how to sit back and let others take the lead. Her cheerful nature and openness to feedback means she's always learning and growing as a learner, an impressive strength that will continue to serve her well in college and beyond. Stacy is just the kind of driven, engaging, and curious student that helped make our classroom a lively environment and safe place to take intellectual risks. Stacy has my highest recommendation for admission to your engineering program. She has demonstrated excellence in all that she puts her mind to, whether it's designing an experiment, collaborating with others, or teaching herself to play classical and electrical guitar. Stacy's endless curiosity, combined with her willingness to take risks, leads me to believe there will be no limit to her growth and achievements in college and beyond. Please don't hesitate to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions. Sincerely, Ms. Randall Physics Teacher Marie Curie High School

Ms. Randall is clearly as much of a fan of Stacy as she is of Mileva Marić. How does she communicate her recommendation?


Ms. Randall plugs for Stacy right off the bat with a statement of outstanding ranking : Stacy is one of the most exceptional students she's had in 15 years of teaching. A statement like this is pretty extraordinary and will make an impact in the mind of its readers. Stacy sounds like a special student, and she chose her recommender well.

Like in the last example, this letter uses strong, specific language , calling Stacy a perceptive and sharp person who has the confidence and good humor to take intellectual risks. Through its accurate and expressive language, this letter helps Stacy come to life in the mind of the reader.

Beyond the evaluation, Ms. Randall gives specific examples of Stacy's academic and personal strengths. She talks about her successful teaching in Robotics Club, her leadership in group projects, and her dedicated practice to teaching herself to play the guitar.

Rather than spreading the letter too thin, Ms. Randall highlights a few core themes. She connects Stacy's love of music with her passion for physics by talking about the frequency-dependent sound absorption project. All the threads tie together in a nice, memorable bow.

This letter is a strong vote of support for Stacy's application to an engineering program. Her physics teacher admires Stacy's skills and goals, and she made it clear that Stacy had her highest recommendation in this letter.

This next example also comes from a teacher who's extremely impressed with his student. It focuses on the student's performance in class and his volunteer work outside the classroom.


Sample Letter #3: William the History Buff and Social Organizer

Dear Admissions Committee, It is hard to overstate the meaningful contributions that William has made to our school and surrounding community. As both his 10th and 11th grade History teacher, I've had the pleasure of seeing William make profound contributions both in and out of the classroom. His school and community service is motivated by a strong sense of social justice, which he informs through a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of historical trends and events. I can say with confidence that William is one of the most caring and driven students I've ever taught in my fifteen years at the school. As a child of immigrant parents, William is especially drawn to understand the immigrant experience. He produced an extraordinary semester-long research paper on the treatment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. during WWII, in which he went beyond all expectations to conduct Skype interviews with relatives of his featured subjects to incorporate into his paper. William has a great capacity to draw connections between past and present and to ground his understanding of current issues in the context of historical events. He never retreats to a simple answer or explanation, but is comfortable dealing with ambiguity. William's fascination with U.S. and World History and skill for deep analysis have him an exemplary scholar, as a well as a motivated activist driven to promote civil rights and work towards social equity. In sophomore year, William noticed that the college planning seminars students attended included little information for first generation or immigrant students. Always thinking about how institutions can better serve people, William spoke with counselors and ESL teachers about his ideas to better support all students. He helped collect resources and design a college planning curriculum for immigrant and undocumented students to enhance their college access. He further helped organize a group that connected ESL students with native English speakers, stating his mission to be helping ELLs improve their English and increasing multicultural awareness and social cohesion at the school as a whole. William identified a need and worked with students and faculty alike to meet it in an extremely effective and beneficial way. Ever the history scholar, he did plenty of research to back up his ideas. William believes passionately in social progress and working for the common good. His own personal experiences, along with his profound grasp on social history, drive his advocacy work. He is a talented, intelligent student with the charisma, confidence, strong values, and respect for others to make a huge difference in the world around him. I'm looking forward to seeing all the good that William continues to do for his fellow humanity in college and beyond, as well as the excellent work that he will produce at the college level. William has my highest recommendation. If you have any questions, please contact me at [email protected] Sincerely, Mr. Jackson History Teacher Martin Luther King, Jr. High School

Mr. Jackson's letter makes William sound like a pretty amazing student and person. How does he go about expressing his admiration for William in this rec letter?


Like Ms. Randall did in her letter, Mr. Jackson provides a statement of outstanding ranking for William, calling him one of the most caring and driven students he's ever taught. Considering his long teaching career of 15 years, this says a lot about William as a student and a person.

Also like in the last example, Mr. Jackson focuses on a few core aspects of William's character. He talks about his love of history and how it informs his social activism. He comments on his exceptional historical scholarship, as well as his personal qualities of caring for those around him and working for the social good.

Mr. Jackson also gives insight into William's personal life , explaining how he has a personal connection to his projects and volunteer work as the child of immigrant parents. This letter reveals that William is a thoughtful, motivated individual who connects his own experiences with his learning and desire to contribute to his community.

The letter also showcases William's exceptional accomplishments by giving specific examples of William's research paper and his work supporting the academic and personal needs of ELL students. Mr. Jackson expresses his enthusiastic recommendation while illuminating William's love of learning and strength of character. This letter would be both impressive and memorable to admissions officers considering William for admission to their school.

This next example comes from a math teacher. Let's see what Mr. Wiles has to say about Joe.


Sample Letter #4: Joe the Hard Worker

Dear Admissions Committee, It is my pleasure to recommend Joe, who I taught in my 11th grade math class. Joe demonstrated tremendous effort and growth throughout the year and brought a great energy to class. He has that combination of a positive attitude and the belief that he can always improve that's rare in a high school student, but so essential to the learning process. I am confident that he will continue to display the same commitment and diligence in everything he does. I highly recommend Joe for admission to your school. Joe would not describe himself as a math person. He's told me on several occasions that all the numbers and variables make his mind go fuzzy. Joe did, in fact, struggle to comprehend the material at the beginning of the year, but his response to this is what really struck me. Where so many others have given up, Joe took on this class as a welcome challenge. He stayed after school for extra help, got extra tutoring at the nearby college, and asked questions in and out of class. Due to all his hard work, Joe not only raised his grades, but he also inspired some of his classmates to stay after for extra help, as well. Joe truly demonstrated a growth mindset, and he inspired his peers to adopt that valuable perspective, too. Joe helped contribute to our classroom environment as one where all students can feel supported and able to ask questions. Joe's strong belief in his ability to acquire new skills and improve through practice was likely shaped by his years as a baseball player. He's played all through high school and is one of the team's most valuable players. In his final for our class, Joe designed an impressive project calculating and analyzing batting averages. While he initially described himself as not a math person, Joe reaped the benefits of his tremendous effort and found a way to make the subject come alive for him in a way that he was personally invested in. As a teacher, it is incredibly fulfilling to witness a student make this kind of academic and personal progress. Joe is a trustworthy, reliable, good-humored student and friend who supports others in and out of the classroom. He was a pleasure to have in class, and his positive attitude and belief in himself, even in the face of difficulty, is an immensely admirable asset. I'm confident that he will continue to demonstrate the same diligence, perseverance, and optimism that he showed myself and his peers. I highly recommend Joe for admission to your undergraduate program. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions at [email protected] Sincerely, Mr. Wiles Math Teacher Euclid High School

While the students featured in the first three examples were top of their class or demonstrated leadership in the school, Joe isn't a top achiever in the traditional sense. However, this recommendation is still a strong one, even if it says he struggled in the teacher's class. What does Mr. Wiles focus on to recommend Joe?


Mr. Wiles writes a strong letter for Joe, with the same kind of enthusiasm and specific examples as the other three letters. Even though Joe may not have gotten the strongest grades in his math class, he found an enthusiastic recommender in his math teacher. Mr. Wiles was extremely impressed with Joe's attitude, effort, and growth mindset , which he demonstrated throughout the year and inspired in his fellow classmates.

Mr. Wiles focuses on Joe's substantial personal strengths, ones that would likely be impressive to his future educators. Even in a subject that may not come naturally to him, Joe is diligent and committed. He's not self-conscious about asking questions or seeking extra help, and he retains a strong belief in himself that he can continuously learn, improve, and acquire new skills.

This letter, like the others, is effective because it is focused, supportive, and backed up with examples. As you can tell from these examples, recommendations can communicate a great deal about a student. Because of this, they can have a powerful impact on a student's chances of admission. So what can teachers and students do to make sure they are sending a strong recommendation letter that will help their chances?


Enthusiasm is key.

How to Get a Strong Recommendation Letter

While these letters are about different students with different interests, they share certain fundamental features. One, they sound excited and enthusiastic. The teachers clearly communicate that they are impressed by these students and eager to help them get into college.

At the same time, the letters don't go overboard because they have examples to back up their assessments. Specific examples and stories are key for backing up the assessment. Plus, they make a letter more interesting and memorable. Rather than just another engineering applicant, Stacy is the student who researched sound-absorption to spare her parents from hours of guitar scales.

Finally, the teachers all discuss their students' personal strengths , along with their academic strengths. They present the holistic view that admissions officers are looking for, along with their strong vote of confidence in the students' future success.

Teachers should incorporate all these features into their letters, and students should help provide them with the raw material to write about. While students should choose a teacher who knows them well and has stories and observations to share, they should also give their teachers a detailed "brag sheet" and let them know what would go into their ideal letter. That way it can be even more personalized and complement the story the student is telling in the rest of her application.

While recommenders may or may not share their letters with students, there should still be open, two-way communication when the student makes her request . That way students and teachers can work together to produce an insightful, enthusiastic, and specific letter of recommendation to send to colleges.

What's Next?

Are you a teacher writing recommendations for your students? Read all about how to write an outstanding recommendation letter for your students , along with what not to include.

Are you or a student you work with applying to a selective school, like Harvard? Learn about what kind of letter she should get for the Ivy League.

Now that you've read these examples of strong teacher recommendation letters, check out these examples of bad ones . Warning: rec letters may appear better than they actually are.

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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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College Recommendation Letter Samples & Writing Guide

College recommendation letter sample

Article Contents 14 min read

It's important to review college recommendation letter samples if you are applying to college soon or if you have been asked to write a letter for a prospective student. In this increasingly competitive admissions climate, college letters of recommendation as just as important as college essays and GPA. Keep reading to learn more about college recommendation letters, how to make sure you secure and write a compelling one, as well as examples of great letters of recommendation that will definitely inspire your own.

Note : If you want us to help you with your applications, interviews and/or standardized tests, book a free strategy call . If you are a university, business, or student organization representative and want to partner with us, visit our partnerships page .

What are college recommendation letters and why do they matter?

As the name suggests, college recommendation letters are essentially positive endorsements of an applicant's skills and qualities. Their aim is to recommend the applicant in question for a particular college or university. Most four-year colleges, like the easiest ivy schools to get into , or the best undergraduate business schools, for example, have a holistic admissions process. This means that they want to know the "whole person" behind the IB or AP courses, grades, and test scores. Recommendation letters and personal essays play a significant role in making that happen. They give the admissions board more information about how students view themselves and how others see them.

A strong letter of recommendation holds substantial weight in admissions decisions. It allows the admissions committee to get a better idea of who you are as a person and what you would be like as a student. A strong letter can be the deciding factor between receiving an acceptance letter, an interview invitation, or a rejection letter when the school is faced with two equally qualified applicants. 

Want to know more about the college application process? This video will walk you through it:

College recommendation letters should be written by someone familiar with your work, character, and accomplishments. Someone who knows you well enough to illuminate your intellectual and personal qualities will write a better letter than someone who has little knowledge of who you are.  Depending on your academic and professional background, there are three main types of letters that you can request from various referees.  

A personal reference, also called a character reference, is a letter written by a friend, family member, mentor, neighbor, or anyone who knows the candidate well enough personally and who can attest to the traits that would make them a good addition to the school or program that they are applying to. This type of letter should explain how the writer knows the applicant and discuss the qualities and attributes that make them the ideal candidate.  ","label":"Personal references","title":"Personal references"}]' code='tab1' template='BlogArticle'>

Regardless of the type of letter you are requesting, one important thing keeps coming up: the referee should know you well! You do not want writers with whom you have not worked personally or with whom you’ve only had brief interactions. These have not had time to evaluate you and your skills, so they will most likely end up writing a very generic sounding letter. Remember that the recommendation letter is supposed to give the admissions team information about you that can't be found anywhere else in your application. 

Before we get into the structure of a recommendation letter, what it needs to include, and those examples that we promised, we want to go over a few things that you need to keep in mind if you want to have recommendation letters that stand out. 

There is no golden template for college recommendation letters. You just need to make sure that the letter is grammatically correct, easy to read and follow, and communicates the right information. It is important to check the guidelines and instructions given by the school you are applying to. Some colleges can request that references be submitted in a specific format, and it is your responsibility to inform your chosen writers of this. You may have a form that your selected referee will need to fill out or specific questions that the school requires them to answer in their letter.  

Unless otherwise stated, we recommend using the following format: 

A letter of recommendation is a document that is supposed to highlight an applicant\u2019s positive attributes, skills, and accomplishments. A strong letter will be clear and provide specific examples to back up any claims made about the student. People tend to remember narratives, so this is one of those instances where it is better to show instead of telling. We recommend using brief anecdotes and specific examples of exceptional projects or meaningful interactions. "}]'>

Conclusion and college recommendation letter examples

College letters of recommendation are challenging. Whether you're requesting a letter of recommendation or have been asked to write one for a prospective college student, there are a lot of things that you need to keep in mind. It's important to use a format that is easy to read, a structure that is easy to follow, and to have specific examples that will show the admissions board why a candidate belongs in their school or university. Following the tips outlined above will definitely help you come up with a recommendation letter that is as compelling or maybe even better than the outstanding examples that we'll share with you below.

Have you started working on your college admissions essay? This video has some great tips you can use:

College recommendation letter sample # 1 

To whom it may concern,  

It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation on behalf of Jane Doe. I have known her for three years, having served as both her English teacher and her supervisor on the XYZ High School newspaper. I firmly believe that Jane would be an excellent addition to the XX College English program.  

 I have watched Jane grow into a capable and confident leader. She started as one of the junior writers of our high school paper, and from the very beginning, Jane was always early to newspaper meetings, and she always came prepared. Whether it was with research for the stories she wanted to pitch or a pen and paper to take notes on whatever assignment she would get. She worked her way up to features editor and she has been occupying this role for one year.   

  Her leadership skills are reflected every day in how she delegates work to her assistant staff and motivates the other writers on her team with words and creative contests that appeal to their competitive side. For example, she recently bought two tickets to a concert and offered them as a prize for the junior writer who came up with the most interesting angle for a story about renovating the school cafeteria. All of the writers had been staying away from it because it seemed like a pretty boring subject but now, they are all looking for ways to make it interesting.   

  She has also been able to manage her commitments to the school paper and the cheerleading team without compromising her grades, which is a testament to her organizational skills. She has consistently been an active participant in class discussions and has demonstrated her impressive written and verbal communication skills through numerous research papers, newspaper articles, and class presentations. Jane intends to spend her years in university honing those communication skills and learning how to be a better journalist, something that I know she is very passionate about and will excel at.  

  I am confident that Jane would be a great addition to your school, as she has so much to offer, both inside and outside the classroom.    If you have any questions regarding Jane's qualifications, please feel free to contact me at (514) 123-4567 or [email protected]  


Izzie Stevens,   

English teacher, XYZ high school   

College recommendation letter sample # 2 

  To Whom It May Concern,  

I have had the pleasure of supervising George Yang at BBG Auto dealership for a little over two years now, and I can say without a doubt that he would make a great addition to the student body of ABC program.   

I have been impressed with how reliable and responsible George is. Many part-timers in the car dealership business are high school or college students, and often, they require a certain amount of handholding, but this has never been the case with George. From the very beginning, he was always punctual and respectful with customers. One gentleman in particular was so impressed with the service that he received that he booked a separate appointment with me, just to tell me how friendly and helpful George was as he went through the process of buying his daughter’s first car. The customer insisted that George deserved a raise.   

  Moreover, when he is not using his downtime to catch up on schoolwork, he is either taking initiative and cold calling potential customers to tell them about upcoming promotions that might interest them or helping his coworkers complete additional tasks, like cleaning up the cars in the showroom, updating the price tags on the cars and sometimes even helping the other salespeople close on a deal.   

  In addition to being a team player, he also shows great leadership potential. At his request, I gave him the opportunity to run one of our promotional campaigns, and he did a fantastic job. He came up with a marketing plan that attracted over 60 customers to the dealership in one day, and he delegated tasks when he had to make sure things ran smoothly. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, in my opinion, he sought help from myself and other members of management whenever he needed it.   

  George has mentioned that he is interested in pursuing a degree in business, a niche in which I am positive he will excel. His dedication to learning makes him a focused student, and I am optimistic that he will graduate with flying colors.   

  I give George my highest recommendation for enrollment in the business program in your college, without reservation. Please feel free to contact me at (819) 123-5678 or [email protected] for any further information.  


Jacob Blake  

Sales Manager, BBG Auto Dealership  

To Whom It May Concern  

I am writing this recommendation letter at the request of Jonathan Smith, who is applying for admission to X university. Jonathan has been a student at JKL High School for three years and the captain of our football team for a year now. As the team's coach, I have had the pleasure of getting to know him as an athlete but also as a person and a student.  

 As an athlete, it is evident that Jonathan strives to win and enjoys the sport in its pure form. As a person, I have watched him learn to be a better leader by listening to his teammates and often asking questions that gave me a pause. I remember a particular instance where he sat next to me on the bus as we were coming back from a game and asked if it was his role to intervene when two team members were having a personal dispute that could potentially affect the game but had not gotten to that point yet. It was one of those moments that showed me that he takes his role as a captain seriously.  

As a student, Jonathan is always eager to learn. I have noticed it when we study plays, and he takes careful notes and asks follow-up questions. Many of my colleagues at JKL high school have also commented on his ability to quickly grasp concepts and follow up on the rare occasions where he is not able to do so on the first try. It is one of the main reasons why he was able to secure an ‘A’ in his AP Biology class even though he joined the class later than the other students.   

As you can probably tell from the few stories that I have shared with you, Jonathan is a focused young man who takes his responsibilities and commitments very seriously. He has assured me that he is committed to becoming one of the best physical therapists in the country and that X university gives him the best chance of achieving this goal.   

I recommend Jonathan for your program without any reservations, as I am confident that he will contribute to your alma matter in great ways, both in and out of the classroom and on the football field. I can be reached by phone at (800) 123-8888 or email at [email protected] if you require any further information.  

Tucker O'Malley,   

JKL High School   

College recommendation letter sample # 4 

It is without hesitation and with great pleasure that I write to you today regarding Aisha Bellgam's application to your prestigious institution. I have been a counselor at XYZ high school for over ten years, and Aisha is one of the most promising students that I have had the pleasure of working with.   

  Aisha first came to me for guidance during her first year of high school. She was new to the country, unfamiliar with our educational system, and dealing with some pretty heavy family problems that made it difficult for her to focus in school. The reality of my job is that I often have to offer my help to students who need it, or other teachers have to send them to my office. So, as you can imagine, I was pleasantly surprised that Aisha had decided to take this step by herself.   

  Over the years, I have noticed that taking this kind of initiative comes naturally to her. For example, once we had worked through her issues and she was more comfortable in school, she decided to help other students like her. Our school is located in an urban community with many children from immigrant families. Being one herself, Aisha is uniquely qualified to identify some of the things that make it difficult for these children to adapt to their new environment, and she recognized that. In her sophomore year, she came to me and asked if she could volunteer in my office and provide resources to help students new to the country integrate faster.   

  Furthermore, many of her teachers have commended her for often taking the time to tutor other students after school. Her compassion, willingness to help, and amicable nature are why she was elected president of the student council. They are also the reason I believe that she will excel in college and go on to change many lives for the better after graduation if she is admitted into your social work program.   

  I am writing this letter today because I wholeheartedly believe that Aisha will be a fantastic addition to your social work program. I have watched her grow into a confident, compassionate young woman who is continually working to better herself and those around her. I look forward to seeing her continue to do so in college and beyond.   

  Please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at (204) 123-4567 or email at [email protected] for any additional information regarding this application.   


Iris Doe  

XYZ High School counselor  

College recommendation letter sample # 5 

My name is Jonathan Sheperd, and I am writing to you today in support of Mr. James Doe's application to the pre-med program at X university.   

  I have been a family physician for over twenty-five years. I currently own and operate a small walk-in clinic in downtown Toronto, and James has been volunteering with us since January 20xx. I have had the pleasure of supervising him and observing him work for over a year now, and I can confidently say that he will make an excellent doctor in the future.   

  I personally believe that bedside manner is one of the hardest things to teach future doctors, but I do not think that will be the case with James. He is always patient, friendly, and courteous with the incoming patients. I realized this during one of his first full shifts at the clinic when a patient who was having a problem controlling their bowel movements came into the clinic and was looking for assistance. Even some of the most experienced members of my staff were having a hard time staying professional, but James volunteered to help this young man with no complaints, and he did so with a smile. In the end, I heard the patient thank him for helping him through one of the most embarrassing days of his life.   

  This is the type of great impression that James leaves with patients and colleagues as well. Even though he only works the front desk at the clinic for 20 hours every other week, the entirety of my staff has acknowledged that his willingness to help and work ethic are things we can always rely on. He has often volunteered to work longer hours when we need extra help, and he always accepts new assignments with enthusiasm.  

  He recently informed me that he made the dean's list again this spring. It did not surprise me because I know that he brings the same level of dedication and work ethic to his studies. He has a very curious mind that is always at work. We actually have a running joke in the office about the little notebook that he carries around and writes in constantly. When I finally asked him about it, he told me that he likes to write down some of the terms that he repeatedly hears in the office so that he can research them or ask his biology teacher about them.   

  His work ethic and eagerness to learn are undeniable, and I am convinced that they will help him succeed as a student and, later on, as a physician. I strongly recommend this applicant for your pre-medicine program as I believe that his professionalism, positive learning attitude, and thirst for knowledge will make him a great addition to your student body.   

  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions. You can reach me by phone at (618) 123-3698 or email at [email protected]    

Dr. Jonathan Sheperd  


It's a document that highlights a candidate's skills and qualifications and recommends that they be admitted to a particular college or university. 

Very important! College admission boards like to get a sense of who is the applicant is beyond their academic background, and college essays and letters of recommendation allow them to do just that. In other words, a strong letter of recommendation can mean the difference between an acceptance letter and a rejection one.

You can ask your high school teachers, school counselors, mentors, supervisors, etc. Just make sure that it is someone who knows you well enough to talk about your skills and other positive attributes.

The earlier, the better. You should ask for your recommendation letters at the very beginning of your college application process. You can even mention it to your chosen writers before then and simply remind them when it comes time to apply to colleges.

We recommend that you ask for a letter of recommendation face to face. Remember to be polite and professional, be specific in your ask, and provide all the information your referee will need to write a strong letter.

You should provide your chosen writer with supporting documents about your background, like your personal essay or high school resume, and information about the letter format, content, and submission deadline.

Ideally, college recommendation letters shouldn't be longer than one page.

In short, a narrative and specific example. Instead of just telling the admissions board that the applicant is a capable student with leadership skills, it would be best to share an example or a brief anecdote that shows that they are.

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Please can the recommender's email be personal?.

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Hello Valetine! Thanks for your comment. It is always best to put down the professional email of your referees, so do your best to include them instead of personal email. However, if your referee is no longer working in an official capacity (retired, for example), you can use their personal email. Though we always recommend using a professional address. 

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university application reference letter sample

3 Incredible College Recommendation Letter Samples To Help Your Child Get Into College & Win Scholarships

average sat study time

While it is important to have a high GPA and great test scores, your teacher recommendation letters might just make the difference between whether or not you get into your dream school.

Colleges and universities want to see that their applicants are well-rounded, passionate, and determined. Thousands upon thousands of students can earn a 4.0 GPA, but far fewer students are able to do so while also demonstrating strong leadership skills, advanced critical thinking skills, and impeccable character.

Schools rely on recommendations from teachers to get a more holistic view of their applicants, allowing them to see which students have what it takes to thrive on their campus and contribute to the institutions.

If you want to get into your dream school, you are going to need to get great letters of recommendation from your teachers that showcase your strengths.

The last thing you want is a generic letter that makes it sound like you were just another face in a sea of hundreds of students within a teacher’s classroom.

Asking teachers who know you well and giving them plenty of advanced notice (at least two weeks) will help you receive better recommendations.

 Here are four college recommendation letter samples of effective letters that will help you know what type of letter can boost your chances of admission:

Dear Admissions Committee,

My name is Mr. Smith, and I have had the honor of teaching John in AP Literature and Composition at High School X, during which I noticed his impeccable character, discipline, and leadership. John is a self-motivated student who always went above and beyond in my class. It is a pleasure to recommend him.

John has an insatiable desire to learn, and he demonstrated this throughout his year in my class. His questions were insightful and eloquent, and he produced work that was far above that of the average student. John’s writing and research skills are phenomenal. For his final project, he produced a truly remarkable essay analyzing cultural identity in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. John’s academic strengths are unparalleled, and I know he will be an asset to your institution.

John’s character is also impressive. He acts with generosity and compassion, and he is well respected by his peers and teachers alike. John is a natural leader, and he was such a joy to have in class.

As a learner and a leader, John is beyond exemplary. He has my strongest recommendation. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

English Teacher

High School X

It is with great pleasure that I recommend Jill for admission to your institution. Jill is one of the strongest students I have taught in my 22 years of teaching, and I am beyond impressed by her academic performance and her leadership skills. Jill was in my AP Literature and Composition class, and I had the honor of coaching her on the High School X debate team. I am happy to recommend her, and I know that she will be a great addition to your university.

As captain of the debate team, Jill has spent countless hours conducting research and analyzing sources to prepare for our competitions. Her hard work and dedication led to her winning first place at the Iowa State Tournament this year. Jill not only has a strong aptitude for learning and debate, but she is also a strong leader. I watched her go beyond what is required of her to take students under her wing and help them become better debaters throughout our season. She is an incredible captain that understands the importance of leading by example and serving others. I firmly believe that both her personal and academic strengths will contribute greatly to your school.

Jill is an exceptional student, and she has my strongest recommendation. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Debate Coach

It has been a pleasure to have Jason in my English classes over the past four years. Jason is an exceptional student, and I have long been impressed by both his academic and interpersonal skills. Throughout the years that I have known Jason, his natural curiosity and desire for learning, his maturity and leadership, and his desire to serve his community have been remarkable. He has my strongest recommendation for admittance into your institution.

In my AP Literature and Composition class, Jason wrote some of the most insightful papers I have read in my 12 years of teaching. I was blown away by his analytical skills and his ability to make connections between different texts. His paper on Toni Morrison’s Sula, was one of the most incredible pieces of student work that I have ever had the joy to read.

Jason’s personal strengths are also strong. He treats his peers and teachers with respect, and he is one of the most compassionate and gracious students I have had in class. Jason is a strong applicant, and I know he will be the perfect addition to your university.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Dear admissions committee,

Teaching AP Physics at High School X is rewarding because of students like Abigail. I have had the joy of watching Abigail’s critical thinking skills and passion for science grow over the past four years in my AP Physics class and as captain of the High School X Robotics team. Abigail is one of the brightest and hardest working students I have had in all of my years of teaching, and it is truly an honor to recommend her for admission to your institution.

Abigail takes her position as captain of the Robotics team very seriously. I have seen her go above and beyond what is required of her to make new members feel welcome and ensure our team is prepared to do well during our competitions. I have never met a student with her level of dedication and passion for sciences, and I know she will be a strong addition to your school’s engineering program.

In addition to her academic strengths, Abigail also has strong leadership skills. She always takes initiative, tackles challenges head on, and serves as a role model for the other students on the team. I know her work ethic and leadership abilities will make a positive impact at your institution.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Physics Teacher

Robotics Team Coach

These four college recommendation letter samples are so strong because they highlight the student’s strengths, back these qualifications with strong and specific examples, and use language that makes it clear that they know the student well.

When you request a letter of recommendation from your educators, make sure you choose teachers that know you well enough to write insightful, detailed letters of recommendation. It might just make the difference that helps you get accepted into a great college.

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College Recommendation Letter Template – with Samples

Create a high quality document online now!

university application reference letter sample

Updated February 17, 2023

A College Recommendation Letter is an endorsement of a college applicant that is written to bolster chances for admission. Recommendation letters are brief, formal statements that should highlight positive qualities and explain why the candidate will be successful in college studies.

Though friends or family might be able to sing the applicant’s praises, the best letters are usually written by teachers or employers.

What to Include

Student writing on chalkboard while teacher shows approval

This letter should provide key details about the relationship between recommender and applicant, and highlight the applicant’s positive attributes. It should include:

Though it is easy to write a laundry-list of positives, it is better to tell a story. Simply put, try to  show  rather than  tell  why the applicant will be a success in higher education.

Why Use a College Recommendation Letter?

Two college students walking on campus grounds

Many colleges require recommendation letters from applicants. But even if recommendations are not a strict necessity, they can help to build the case for admission.

These letters matter for what they say, but they also add some default value to an application just for being included. Even if the admissions committee does not carefully read recommendation letters, they are likely to note that they were included with the application, and that the applicant in the  kind of person  who can drum up recommendations – a positive quality all its own.

Who to Select

Soccer player scoring goal while coach claps and approves

A teacher, coach, or counselor are ideal choices and should be able to state key facts about the student including being able to describe their personality traits, work habits, and skills. Furthermore, the individual chosen by the student should be someone that they have had a relationship with outside the hours of school such as part of a volunteer program, sports team, or academic club.

An advantage to this is that Colleges and Universities understand that, on top of a full curriculum, having other activities take away from schoolwork. Therefore, if it comes down to an application with a generic reference versus another with an authentic reference, the latter will most likely get the nod.

How to Write (Format)

Woman writing a paper with pen alongside a laptop computer

A recommendation letter should fill an entire page (usually 400 – 500 words) and contain an introduction, two (2) body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The student should be described in a way that highlights both their academic skills and personal qualities. If the letter is written well, it will provide a complete picture of the candidate which goes beyond their grades and personal resume.


The introduction should be anywhere from 2 to 6 sentences that, more or less, describe the relationship with the student.

Depending on the person it can be as short as:

Example #1 Dear Admissions Committee, It is with great satisfaction that I recommend Peter to the University of Oak Lane. I had the joy of teaching and coaching Peter for the last 2 years as part of our school’s math team and I’ve watched him age into an intelligent, mature young man.

In this sample introduction the student is being recommended by the head of a noteworthy club (the “math team”) which is a stand-out recommendation.

Example #2 Dear Admissions Committee, It is my honor to recommend Jake to Faraway College as his high school basketball coach. Over the course of the last 4 years,  I have seen him develop into one of our school’s most impressive players and it was his skillset that helped guide our team to a winning season last year . Without his leadership skills and discipline, our team would not have enjoyed its success.

Here we have a coach that is introducing the student immediately as a leader and disciplined player. Two (2) key personality traits that a school looks for in a candidate.

Paragraph #1

The first body paragraph of the letter should provide a positive description of the student’s character, as well as list any achievements and awards that they may have earned. This paragraph will provide the main body of the letter and should therefore be at least 4-6 sentences in length.

Example #1 Laura has proven herself to be generous, enthusiastic, and helpful both in and out of class. Not only is she one of my top Physics students, but she has also been responsible for organizing student  activities, and speaking at assemblies as president of the Student Counci l. In this capacity, Laura has demonstrated that she is a confident, well-organized, diligent, and capable leader. She has participated as a tutor in the peer-tutoring program. I personally oversee this program and can attest not only to Laura’s ability to explain and instruct, but also to her patience and her deep commitment to helping others. I am also pleased to say that I was able to award Laura with the AAPT Outstanding Student Certificate for her exemplary performance during her two years as a student in my Physics classes.

In this example a physics teacher demonstrates the student’s positive character attributes by referencing the student’s personal achievements and commitments.

Example #2 When I was first introduced to Jordan, I was immediately impressed by his maturity and confidence. Little did I know that five years later I would be impressed further still by this young man’s incredible development. Jordan is known throughout the school for his athletic achievements in track and field, as well as for being a standout performer in the theatre program. As Jordan’s counselor I have been able to track his incredible personal and academic progress, and I can attest that with his winning smile and perseverance there is no mountain that he cannot climb. By staying after school for extra help in mathematics and science, Jordan has managed to improve his academic performance to such a degree that he has been included on the school Honor Roll for two years running.

This sample has a school counselor drawing upon their lengthy relationship with the student to describe their personal impression of the student’s character, highlighting the student’s work ethic and exemplary performance in multiple fields.

Paragraph #2

The second body paragraph is going to expand upon the first one, emphasizing the student’s participation in school and in school groups, citing specific examples of their positive character traits. Try to connect the student’s various interests and aptitudes to paint a coherent and memorable portrait. This paragraph can run from 3-6 sentences, depending on how many examples are given.

Example #1 Cassandra’s personal character is equally as impressive as her academic achievements. As a public speaker she is able to hold the attention of an entire assembly, and when speaking one-on-one she demonstrates empathetic listening skills, as well as a powerful intellect. Cassandra cares about those around her and is always ready to lend a helping hand or word of encouragement. In her third year, she started a sustainability program along with her peers which now performs an annual school waste audit and gives presentations on waste reduction and practices. With her unwavering enthusiasm and sense of humor, having Cassandra in a classroom is a joy for her teachers and fellow students alike.

The above sample uses descriptive language and specific examples to highlight the student’s communication skills, personal interests, and positive personality traits.

Example #2 As captain of the girls basketball team, Melinda has participated in two state-wide championships and led our school to a victory in a district tournament. This year, she has served as the editor of this year’s school yearbook, proving her ability to delegate work to her assistant editors and organize an efficient workflow. Melinda is not only a born leader and a fastidious worker, she is a kind-hearted and sympathetic individual who strives to make a positive impact on the world around her.

This example uses less descriptive language, instead relying more upon examples that pertain to the student’s extracurricular activities, demonstrating their participation, leadership skills, and sense of responsibility.

The conclusion paragraph can be anywhere from 2-4 sentences long and its purpose is twofold: to summarize the author’s personal recommendation, and to provide a contact method for further questions.

Example #1 Peter’s ability to perform competitively under pressure will surely serve him well in a college setting. He is an organized, intelligent, and capable young man who would be an excellent addition to your school. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at (555) 414-4141 or [email protected] Sincerely, Jan Travis Biology Teacher Far Away High School

The above sample has a brief summary of the student’s of positive attributes, as well as two contact methods contained in the paragraph body.

Example #2 In conclusion, Clayton has my respect and highest recommendation as an exemplary student. He has demonstrated excellence in all that he puts his mind to, whether working on a group project, or designing a technical experiment. Clayton’s keen interest in understanding how things work and natural aptitude for sciences lead me to believe that he will be a valuable addition to your classrooms. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at the email address provided below if you have any questions. Sincerely, Mr. John Lewis Physics Teacher West Island High School

In this concluding paragraph, the summary is geared specifically towards the college program which the student is applying for. By being specific, the author clearly demonstrates why the student is a suitable applicant for a particular college or university.

Dear Admissions Committee, I am pleased to be writing this letter of recommendation on behalf of Karen Leyland, a most promising student and wonderful individual. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Math to Karen during her junior and senior years here at Kirby Prep School. If it were appropriate for teachers to pick favorites, Karen would definitely be one of my top choices. She has a winning attitude full of drive and perseverance that goes unparalleled. She is always attentive in class and has a knack for engaging the whole class in participation, but the attribute that admire the most about Karen is her unwavering kindness. Karen has been at the top of her class in her final year of high school and was always amongst the top 5 in previous years. Her ability to understand complex concepts and solve problems quicker than most people is the main reason why she qualified for the National Merit Scholarship Program . This accomplishment was earned by giving her undivided attention in class and doing extra work outside of the classroom. She’s always able to manage her time superbly and willing to lend a hand to other students struggling with their work. While some are destined to develop leadership skills, Karen seems to possess the intrinsic qualities of a born leader  and she’s able to accomplish this without an air of arrogance or superiority towards her peers. Math is Karen’s main academic focus, but she is also thrives in the music department. She plays saxophone in the jazz band and has a deep understanding of the connections between music and mathematics. I have heard her play on multiple occasions and it’s obvious she has an amazing mind for music comprehension and composition. I’m also fortunate enough to play music with Karen when we both can spare the time and my favorite part about it is the change in teacher-student dynamic wherein I get to play the role of the student again. It’s refreshing and confirms my belief that teachers learn just as much from their students as students do from teachers. Any college would be thrilled to accept Karen as she is an outstanding student with so much to offer. Our school was very lucky to have her as a student and I’m sure your faculty will feel the same should she be accepted. Karen embraces constructive criticism and strives to improve in every aspect of her education and beyond. She deserves all the good things that will inevitably come her way in her post-secondary years. I would be glad to answer any further questions you have regarding Karen or Kirby Prep School. Sincerely, Erik Perkins Math Teacher Georgiana Bruce Kirby Prep School
Dear Admissions Committee, It is without hesitation that I write to you in regards to Ted’s acceptance into your prestigious institution. I am a counselor at Crescent Valley High School and have had the pleasure of working with Ted throughout his high school career. I’ve watched him develop into a well-rounded and mature young man, who will accomplish many great things in his lifetime. He is a talented and hard-working individual who finds joy in helping others. Ted has amazing people skills and can make anyone feel comfortable around him. In Ted’s first year of high school, he came to me in need of some guidance. He had gone through some heavy family problems and it was causing his school work to suffer. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help Ted through these rough times. He is a compassionate, caring, and self-efacing person, with an unshakable positive outlook on life. Once he had worked out his own issues, all he wanted to do was take his experiences and help other students with similar problems. He began volunteering at North View Elementary School, talking with kids and even tutoring in multiple subjects. I’ve never come across anyone who wasn’t immediately enamored by Ted’s amicable demeanor. Throughout his high school career, Ted has excelled in every field of his education and also taken on multiple extra curricular activities. In his senior year, Ted was president of the Student Council, captain of the basketball team, and an honor student. He has become proficient at juggling multiple work loads. He also continued his counseling at the elementary school throughout these years. Even still, he wanted to make a bigger difference. He decided to present his outlook on life by holding a seminar in the gymnasium. Most of the school attended to listen to Ted as he spoke eloquently on overcoming your fears and insecurities and transforming them into positive thinking. It was a captivating 20 minute speech that led to an uproarious standing ovation. Someone managed to film the presentation and the video has thousands of views on YouTube. I am very pleased that Ted approached me to write this letter as I am so impressed by his achievements and his enormous potential. He is a charming young man who is able to see the good in everyone. If Ted is accepted into your Counseling Psychology Program, there’s no doubt in my mind he will excel in this field and go on to change many lives for the better. The confidence and charisma that he has developed over his high school career is phenomenal and I look forward to seeing that continue in college. Please contact me if you wish to further discuss Ted’s acceptance into your college. Regards, William Mackenzie Guidance Counselor Crescent Valley High School
September 1, 2017 Dear Admissions Committee, I am submitting this letter in support of Jim’s application for admission to the Class of 2022 at Michigan State University. I have been Jim’s supervisor at Bellevue Coffee since he was hired in April 2014. In this time, he has consistently shown himself to be a steadfast, professional, and pleasant employee. Though this is his first job, he has demonstrated professional instincts and a bulletproof work ethic since day one. A short anecdote to illustrate Jim’s character: Last Sunday, our early shift barista called out sick. While I, as store manager, would normally cover such an expected absence, I was otherwise occupied with a family medical matter. I reached out to Jim, and he enthusiastically volunteered to take this early shift, even though it meant a 16-hour day for him. Though Jim routinely works 20 hours per week, I understand that he has only improved his grades since starting this job. Being a first-hand witness to his quick-thinking, judgement, and ethic in the workplace, it is hardly surprising to hear that he again made the dean’s list last spring. I have no doubt that Jim will be a successful member of the class of 2022 and offer my wholehearted endorsement of him. Sincerely, Ryan Shannon

university application reference letter sample

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Creative Writing News

Letter of Recommendation For Students: 10 Sample Recommendation Letters For University Admissions (Tips + Examples + Format)

Congratulations an aspiring student has found you worthy enough to write a letter of recommendation to their prospective university’s admissions committee. .

You know that this is a big deal and that the applicant’s success depends, to some extent, on the quality of this reference letter. But how do you go about writing a letter of recommendation for a student, especially one who wants to get a teaching assistantship?

First things first: what is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation (a reference letter) is a document that describes the professional knowledge and personal qualities of an applicant.

One can also argue that the reference letter is a formal document written in a conservative style and whose top priority is to enlighten and inform the admissions committee about the applicant’s skills and experiences.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: how should you start writing this important letter for a university or college application? Seriously, where should you start?

The first place to start is to understand that letters of reference for university admissions are never generalized.

In fact, a letter of recommendation is:

Listed and enumerated below are more tips and LOR examples that will guide you on how to write a recommendation letter for students’ university admission.

Make Up Your Mind To be An Honest Referee For The Student.

Producing a reference letter that significantly deviates from the truth puts the referee’s reputation at risk. Thus, providing a colleague from the same professional field with an unrealistic description of the candidate can generate problems for both parties.

An academic expert  published a comprehensive guide for writing recommendation letters in the Burroughs Welcome Fund of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

 According to this expert, not everyone is qualified to write a recommendation letter for every student. It is customary to write honest recommendation letters for those:

You can turn down candidates who don’t know well and can hardly vouch for. You can also say no to students who you don’t consider to be a good fit. It is certainly better than writing an undermining letter of recommendation.

Here’s one sample of a reference letter where the recommender shows an infectious enthusiasm for the candidate’s work and clearly wants the candidate to be admitted into the university they’re applying to.

Letter of recommendation samples

A letter of recommendation is by definition a supportive document intended to help the subject secure a spot in an academic program or a job. So please say no if you are not ready to write an honest supportive letter.

Also, if you don’t know the subject well, it might be wise to reject his/her request. Conversely, in case you know the subject well but have reservations of other nature, let him/ her know about this, offering the latter the chance to pick another referee.

Look At Sample Letters of Recommendation for University Admissions.

To write an impressive LOR, you must have a very good idea of what a recommendation letter should look like.

Ask for samples from colleagues or find examples of letters of recommendation online. 

Obviously, the most informative references would be those from a matching specialization.

Here’s one of my favorite letter of recommendation examples. It’s definitely one that checks all the boxes. 

sample of recommendation letter for university admission

Gather Sufficient Information About the Candidate

A reference letter that is too generic and ignores the personality, biography, and interests of the candidate will be regarded very poorly.

To avoid this, ask the candidate to provide the necessary details. According to the Department of Art History of the College of Letters and Sciences of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the following information would be needed in writing a recommendation letter:

Mention The Right Details In The Right Order.

A good letter of recommendation must contain the following into the following three important parts, namely:

The Introduction of the Letter of Recommendation For Students

Your reference letter should start by introducing the candidate and yourself  and explaining why you are writing this letter.

Briefly mention your qualifications and position within the institution. This is necessary to convince the reader about your credibility and competence so that they can trust your words.

Additionally, this will explain the relationship between you and the candidate, how you got to teach him/her, how you ended up working side by side.

It will confirm to the reader that you interacted with the subject sufficient time in order to get to know him/ her well enough. You should also briefly list the responsibilities or goals that the candidate had under your supervision, what type of guidance you provided.

The Body of the Reference Letter.

Here you should  mention the candidate’s achievements  under your supervision and his/her contribution throughout the period of collaboration.

Recall anecdotes and situations that portray the candidate’s abilities, personal qualities and strengths, mindset, etc.

Note that, if the subject wasn’t doing very well from day one, you can focus on his/her improvement during this period.

recommendation letter for student

The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill   says  you should also try to provide quantitative estimates of the subject. Keep in mind that grades and other standardized metrics are often hard to interpret across different settings.

Hence, it is better mention how the subjects compare to others in the same circumstances and what they are likely to achieve given their knowledge and skills.

Don’t forget to explain why the candidate is a good fit for the position.

Illustrate how the candidate would uniquely complement their range of competencies or would contribute to the professional or intellectual climate of the team or institution.

Try to portray the kind of student or employee the subject will likely be.

When evaluating the candidate’s analytical skills or creativity ,  focus on distinctive strengths, especially on the most valuable. This sample recommendation letter does this quite well.

college recommendation letter sample

These could include the ability to organize thoughts and communicate them clearly, to think deeply, multilaterally, or out of the box, to think quickly, etc.

To support some of the affirmations, you should go into greater detail and explain to the audience why you made such conclusions while also providing evidence.

Apart from discipline-related knowledge and abilities, it is important to mention the subject’s defining personal qualities and soft skills.

Comprehensive lists of such traits and skills can be found in articles teaching  how to promote yourself  for the purpose of career growth. These might include:

Of all these skills, focus on those that seem to be most relevant for the corresponding position. Including vivid details that illustrate your claims will make the recommendation more credible.

How to write

The Conclusion

The concluding parts of the letter must provide a brief summary of the key points listed above and a restatement of your support of the candidate.

Referees should also state the readiness and willingness to provide additional information, as needed (for instance, during a phone call or as an email reply). Obviously, contact information should be provided to make this possible.

The Recommendation Letter Shouldn’t Be Too Short Or Too Short.

Although the typical length of a letter varies somewhat across professional fields, it is important not to write overly short or overly long letters.

Otherwise, the length of the letter usually   correlates   directly with the measure of your support for the candidate.

For a demanding position, a strong recommendation should be more than 1 – 1.5 pages in length, while short letters serve as a red flag for many.

The guide from Burroughs Welcome Fund mentions that a referee needs to also be aware of absent information and the message this can send.

In other words, since a letter of recommendation mentions only the goods, not mentioning highly-relevant positive qualities may lead to strong suspicions of their absence.

Writing books

The same guide states that good reference letters also mention non-critical weaknesses and tend to attenuate or compensate them with positive details or facts.

Oftentimes, it is mentioning these weaknesses that creates the impression of honesty and objectivity.

However, as the guide from the University of North Carolina advises, you should mention the weaknesses that the audience would already be aware of.

If these are related to lower grades for certain subjects, explain the reason or state that the subject improved or has the potential to do so.

However, these weaknesses should only cover the professional dimension, not the personal one.

The letter  should avoid  informal language, inappropriate humor, slang, casual language – use business or academic language instead. The text should be free of grammar and spelling mistakes, it should be well-structured, with a good flow and   layout , and should use proper wording.

It is generally inappropriate to mention the candidate’s race, ethnicity, religion, political preferences, age, health or marital status since reference letters should assess professional qualities.  

Also, pay attention to language that might introduce gender or other biases. Thus, evidence shows that women are more likely to be portrayed with qualifiers that are irrelevant to their professional skills.

Avoid clichés and generalizations like “ hard-working ,” “ dedicated ,” and “ enthusiastic” – to describe these qualities, it is always better to employ powerful anecdotes and vignette. 

Don’t abuse the number of compliments and stay away from exaggerated, awkward, or half-hearted compliments.

The latter can be interpreted as “I didn’t find anything better to say about the candidate”.

How to Use Examples of Letters of Recommendation Online

There are plenty of free   samples online to help with your first recommendation letter. However, you must be careful not to copy them.

Every reference letter is unique to each applicant. Do your best to tailor your LOR to suit your candidate’s needs.

Below, you can also find 2 excellent reference letter examples you can use for various occasions.

More Sample Letters of Recommendation

Written by a Manager for a freelance worker

Anna Fields

Chief Operating Officer

Windberg , Inc.

13 Vermont Lane

Portland, Oregon 97206

Dear Ms. Fields,

I’m very pleased to recommend Kara for the position of Web Designer with Windberg , Inc. Kara has worked with our accessory company, Sundial Co., on a freelance basis over the past several years. While I’ve communicated with Kara remotely via video chat and email, I’ve gotten to know her as a reliable employee with substantial web design skills. I have no doubt that she’ll continue to create outstanding work as a full-time web designer with your company.

Kara began contributing to our company over five years ago. She started with us during a major push to rebrand and worked on design across the site. Kara elevated our company’s aesthetic by redefining our design across our website pages. In fact, she updated our logo, which we use across all our pages and ema il newsletters. She’s fluent in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and has experience with website builders, like WordPress and Wix . Kara has an artistic eye and a keen sense of user experience. We owe a great deal of the appeal and ease of use of our new website t o Kara’s efforts.

In addition to working on front end design, Kara also worked across our social media platforms. She helped shape our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages and engage users with viral content. She was especially skilled with cu rating content on Instagram and Pinterest. Most recently, she put together a style story on one of our jewelry designers, a feature that’s gotten over 2,000 shares. Between her strong sense of aesthetics and attention to detail, Kara was able to create a s leek visual experience that drew in customers and boosted sales.

While Kara has been a great talent on our team, she seeks to work for a cause which she’s passionate about – environmental protection. She’s excited about Windberg’s mission to make alternati ve energy affordable to the average consumer. I’m excited she’s found this opportunity to apply her expertise as a web designer to a cause that’s so close to her heart.

Kara is a creative, detail-oriented, and savvy web designer with a passion for the sola r and renewables industry. She’s great at working independently and can produce high-level work with little supervision. I have no doubt that she will make an excellent addition to the Windberg team. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank s for your time.

Edmund Hefner

Web Design Director

Sundial Co.

[email protected]


Sample letter #5

Written by a supervisor for an employee to facilitate an internal promotion

Abraham Mendes

Director of Customer Relations


65 Elm Road

Denver, CO 80014

Dear Mr. Mendes,

It’s my pleasure to provide this recommendation for Emilia as she pursues the Customer Experience Team Lead position with GrimStrikes. As her supervisor on the customer service team for the past four years, I’ve worked closely with Emilia on a day-to-day basis. I’m confident that Emilia is ready to transition into a leadership position. Please allow me to give a couple of examples of Emilia’s qualifications for this promotion.

Firstly, Emilia embo dies our “customer-centric” philosophy and delivers an extraordinary shopping and ownership experience to our clients. She has impressed me with her warmth and kindness online, over the phone, and in person. For example, she showed on multiple occasions he r ability to relate to our customers, consoling as well as educate them on company’s product and services.

Secondly, Emilia has an in-depth knowledge of our products and operating procedures. After four years on the support team, she’s dealt with a variety of issues and understands the day-to-day operations and big picture aims of our business. She can solve pr oblems fast and has introduced several new initiatives for improvement. Recently, she began working on a new framework to facilitate communication between the support team and the product team. Emilia is improving the delivery of case notes from support re presentatives to product designers. She uses her in-depth knowledge to drive innovation.

Thirdly, Emilia has shown leadership skills throughout her time with GrimStrikes. Her colleagues recognize her as an expert in all things support, and they often go to her with questions. In the past year, she’s helped with the onboarding of several new employees, assisting with training and checking in weekly to discuss their progress. Since new employee onboarding will be a large part of her role as Customer Experienc e Team Lead, Emilia has already proven her capability in this area. I know that she has her colleagues’ support in stepping into the role of team leader.

Emilia has proven her expertise in customer relations time and time again, and she is ready to move in to a position of team leadership. She is capable, confident, and committed to our mission of extraordinary support. I look forward to seeing her in the position of Customer Experience Team Lead with GrimStrikes. Thank you very much. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.

Edna Wallaby

Customer Experience Manager



How to write a letter

Writing a reference is a complex process that requires sufficient time, personal involvement, and effort. However, given the importance of this document for the future of the candidate, the referee has a moral obligation to take it seriously.

The reference letter for a college or job application should highlight the candidate’s accomplishments, professional qualifications, and personal traits that are relevant to the position he or she is applying for. In doing so, it is essential to identify the good qualities of the candidate and portray the latter from a positive angle. The extent to which this portrait manages to be comprehensive, positive, and credible will determine the strength of the recommendation letter.

Have you ever written a letter of recommendation for a college student or a former colleague/employee?

How did you go about it? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these challenges?

Which of these sample letters of recommendation appealed to you the most? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

  Author’s Bio:  

Bridgette Hernandez:

Bridgette is a content writing specialist who works for students and with students. She teaches them how to write formal or creative texts and how to overcome common challenges in order to unlock their full writing potential.

Right now, she is working on turning this   helpful site  into a vast freely accessible database of essays on a great variety of topics.

Bridgette also likes to explore the tricks and techniques that can boost creative and prolific writing. She also likes to reflect and how these could be implemented in a mass education setting.

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university application reference letter sample

Academic reference letter

university application reference letter sample

06 February, 2022

Academic reference letter share.

An academic reference letter (also known as an academic recommendation letter) for higher study applications provides details about your academic attainments, your character as a student, and your future academic ambition. It is a letter written by someone normally teacher/professor who knows you well through teaching (ideally within 2 years) in your former or current school/college/university. The letter must be on official letterhead of the school/college/university, have all the contact details of the school/college/university and contain the referee’s full name, designation, contact information, signature and date. Most of the prospective universities may require 2 academic reference letters with your admission application for higher studies abroad.

Sample academic reference letter

Date:………/……./…………… Reference number: ………………………..                           

To Whom It May Concern           

I am pleased to provide a reference for Ms ………………………………………….., Student ID No:………………………, a Bachelor of Business Administration student of 2016-17 session at Business Administration department of ………………………………[University name].

I have known Ms……. [surname] for about 4 years as her teacher for the International Marketing and Marketing Management modules of the course. During this period I have had the opportunity to observe her closely in class and at campus.

As a student Ms ……… [surname] has been well-responsive in the class, passionate to her workshops and dedicated to her coursework and completed those on time. She has been sincere, hard-working and an engaging student, never late in the class or missed one. She has been always eager to learn extra and explore new areas. In her third year, she developed outstanding critical thinking and analysis skills which impressed me hugely. Her understandings of the two modules I have taught have been very satisfactory to me and in my opinion she has founded a strong platform for her advanced level studies in these areas. Her fluent interactions with peers and teachers have featured her as an outgoing character at the department. She was a popular member of group coursework while her ability to independent work adds further strength to her academic profile.

As a person Ms ……… [surname] possesses good moral character and is a pleasant personality.  She has been a very responsible student and respectful to others and these traits show her maturity and capacity for integration into college/university life.

In my opinion, Ms ………… [surname] has the potential to flourish further academically at her masters level studies and I have no hesitation to recommend her candidature at universities in the UK.

Best regards

………………………………….. Signature

Full name of teacher   : Position                       : Department                 : Telephone number     : Email                           :

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Letter of Recommendation Samples for Students

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.

university application reference letter sample

How To Request a Recommendation Letter

How to write a recommendation letter, what to include in a recommendation letter for a student, how to use letter examples and templates, student recommendation letter example, character / personal recommendation letters, character reference letter example, how to create a reference list, frequently asked questions (faqs).

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Students may need a letter of recommendation to land a job, secure an internship, or earn a spot in a competitive academic program. But to make a good impression on the recipient, a letter of recommendation must be more than just an enthusiastic endorsement—it must follow a specific format.

Whether you are a student who needs a letter of recommendation for an application or a reference writer, here’s how to format your letter and what to include in the document. Plus, you’ll find a few samples to help guide your writing.

Key Takeaways

When you request a letter of recommendation (sometimes also called a letter of reference), be sure to remind potential letter writers how they know you and give them information on why you need the letter (for example, tell them the types of job you will be applying for).

You might also provide the person with your most up-to-date resume or CV. These details will make it easier for them to write a personalized and targeted reference letter.

You should also provide all the information the person needs regarding how to submit the letter, what to include (if there are any requirements) and when it is due.

When writing a reference letter , be sure to explain how you know the student, and describe some of the qualities that make him or her a good candidate for the job or school. Use specific examples to demonstrate how the person has shown those qualities.

Focus on the specific job or school the person is applying for. Try to include qualities and examples that will help them get that position or get into that school.

Feel free to ask the person for whom you are writing the letter for more information. You might ask to see the job listing, their resume, or a list of their related coursework.

Contact Information If you’re writing a formal printed letter, include your contact information, as well as the recipient’s information, at the top of the letter.

Greeting If you are writing a personal recommendation letter, include a salutation to start your letter (Dear Dr. Smith, or Dear Ms. Jones, for example).

Paragraph 1: Introduction Explain why you're writing and how you are connected to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, and for how long.

Paragraph 2/3: Why You're Writing Share information on the person you are writing about, including why they are qualified and what they have to offer. It's fine to include more than one paragraph to provide details of the student's academic and work performance. Including examples of how they have excelled is a good way to show how the person is qualified.

Paragraph 4: Summary Write a brief summary of why you are recommending the person. Mention that you "highly recommend" the person or that you "recommend without reservation" or something similar.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion Offer to share more information and let the reader know how to contact you (phone, email, etc.) for a follow-up conversation.

Letter Closing End your letter with a formal letter closing and your name and title. If you are mailing a printed letter, include your signature underneath your typed name: 

Signature (for hard copy letter)

If you’re sending an email, include your contact information in your signature. 

It is a good idea to review recommendation letter examples and templates before you write a recommendation letter or a request for a letter. They can help you decide what kind of content you should include in your document.

A letter template also helps you with the layout of your letter, such as how many paragraphs to include, and how to sign the letter. Templates also show you what elements you need to include in your letter, such as your contact information.

While recommendation letter examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point, always tailor a letter to fit the particular situation

Download the recommendation letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

The Balance

Recommendation Letter Example (Text Version)

Brian Smith 123 Main Street Anytown, CA 12345 555-555-5555

March 9, 2021

Emma Johnson Owner Café Bistro 72 Dock Street Pacifica, Oregon 97233

Dear Ms. Johnson,

Daniel Williams worked as a server and manager at Central College’s student café under my supervision for seven semesters, beginning in Spring 2019.

Over that time, I was consistently impressed with his customer service and people management skills, as well as his dedication and good humor. I've often said that if I could clone Daniel, I'd never have to worry about staffing problems again. He's a truly gifted server, fast on his feet, and able to remember complicated orders without using an order pad.

He’s also an innovator. Thanks to his suggestions, we revamped the café menu last year to focus on the most popular dishes and dropped some expensive, time-consuming menu items. The result was a 10% increase in profits.

Our customers love him. More than one has suggested that Daniel become a “super senior,” so that he can stay with us next year. Alas, he’s graduating on schedule, with highest honors and a boatload of references to attest to his skill, hard work, and talent. I’m honored to be one of them.

I enthusiastically recommend Daniel for the position of server/manager in your café. If you have any specific questions about Daniel’s experience and skills, I’m happy to help. Please call me at 555-555-5555.

Brian Smith

Student Coordinator

Central College Café

A character reference is a recommendation written by someone who can attest to one’s character. These letters may be needed for people applying to join an association or purchase property.

They can be used as an alternative to a professional reference for someone who doesn't have work experience, and they may also be required for jobs that require a high level of trustworthiness.

Who To Ask for a Character Reference

If you have limited work experience (or worry you will get a negative reference from your former employer), you might ask someone to write you a character reference. This might help balance out a negative employer reference.

Consider asking a friend, neighbor, volunteer or club leader, colleague, or other people who may never have employed you, but can speak to who you are as a person.

What To Include in a Character Reference

If you are asked to write a character reference, focus on the person’s character traits and abilities. You can provide examples from personal interactions with that individual.

Download the character reference letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Character Reference Letter Example (Text Version)

Jane Lee 330 Chestnut Street Kerry Springs, Massachusetts 01006

February 3, 2023

Sandra Gomez Program Director Kids at Play, Inc. Centertown, New Hampshire 03225

Dear Ms. Gomez,

Before I had the pleasure of working with Liz Dwyer on our neighborhood cleanup committee, I was her next-door neighbor for 10 years. It didn’t surprise me at all when she was the youngest person to show up for our initial organizational meeting or when she volunteered to take notes and spearheaded the playground project. 

Liz is a very special young person, the kind that gives you hope for the future. It’s not just that she’s organized and dependable, although she is. It’s that she has passion, drive, and a deep optimism for what’s possible. I’ve seen firsthand how she uses that optimism to inspire others and help them see the possibilities in an empty lot or rundown corner. 

I’ve also been impressed with Liz’s growth as an artist. Since she started at Eastern College, her talent has grown. She has used her new skills to improve our neighborhood, rallying the local kids to help her make a mosaic wall for the new playground. 

I know she would be a bright light in your arts program, inspiring and guiding the kids in your care just as she has the kids on our block. I enthusiastically recommend her for the job. Please feel free to reach out to me at or (413)555-6078 with any questions. 

Best regards,

Jane Lee Director, Chestnut Street Block Association

A reference list is a page with a list of your references and their contact information. Send this letter as part of your job application if it is requested. Employers who ask for a reference list might call or email the people on that list and ask them for more information about you.

When creating your reference list, be sure to first ask permission from each person on your list. Not only is this polite, but this will give each person time to prepare a response for the employer. Make sure you provide all the necessary contact information for each person.

What should a student’s letter of recommendation include?

A letter of recommendation for a student should describe their positive qualities, including their academic achievements, interpersonal skills, work ethic, and character. To be effective, the letter should focus on skills and qualifications that are most valuable in the job or program for which the student is applying. 

How long should a recommendation letter be?

A recommendation letter should be at least a few paragraphs long, typically a page or two in length. It should contain specifics that illustrate why the subject is a good candidate for the job or position they’re seeking. The recommender should unreservedly endorse the subject of the letter. 

Georgetown University Center for Research and Fellowships. " Do's and Don'ts of Writing Recommendation Letters ."

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