Lesson – Letters of Recommendation
Lesson: Letters of recommendation in the following areas would provide strong connections to your résumé. After reviewing this activity, return to your LCECHS Boot Camp Narratives document and list the names of each of the people from whom you will request a letter of recommendation and summarize why you believe each person will provide a strong letter of recommendation on the “Narrative: My Recommendations” page.
- Identify the academic areas and activities you most enjoyed, awards and achievements of which you are proudest, or areas to which you would desire to highlight in an interview.
- Identify the supervisors, teachers, faculty advisors, coaches, or program sponsors from whom you would like to request letters of recommendation.
- Transcript Review: Review your high school transcript and identify the courses that have a strong relationship to your projected college major, i.e., math and science, visual or performing arts, physical training, culinary arts, communication studies, etc., and request a letter or recommendation from teachers, advisors, or coaches where you achieved the highest grades or had the best performance.
- Requesting the Recommendation: Provide the person from whom you are requesting a letter of recommendation with a copy of your résumé and high school transcript either in person or via email, together with any required forms to assist them in constructing a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
- Bring to your recommenders attention anything that you would like mentioned such as solving a problem in class, serving as a team leader for a group, or an award or special recognition that you received in which they are aware.
- While you should waive your right to see recommendations on the Common Application, try to identify recommenders who are willing to provide you with a copy of their recommendation so that you may use for applying for scholarships.
- Try to identify recommenders who are familiar with your passions, gifts, talents, or career aspirations.
- Review the Common Application Teacher/Counselor Recommenders Form provided with this activity and engage in an honest self-assessment of how you believe your teachers and counselors would rate you.
- Request your recommendations well in advance of application deadlines (ideally during the summer before school starts or as close as possible to the beginning of the school year).
- Send and email or note expressing your appreciation for your recommenders taking the time to write a recommendation.
- Personalize your request. If you recall having learned a valuable lesson, you started a program, or you collaborated with other students to initiate a community service activity, mention this to the person writing the letter of recommendation so they may reference this experience.
- Prepare a letter of recommendation for their signature. Some teachers ask students to write their own letter of recommendation for the teacher’s signature. Do not shy away from the opportunity to carefully construct your own letter of recommendation. Review the sample letters provided in this activity to guide your efforts.
If your recommender is required to submit the recommendation directly to a college or scholarship provider, ask if you could have a copy of the recommendation letter for your records. A strong letter of recommendation may be used for applying for scholarships.
Sample Letters of Recommendation
Re: Letter of Recommendation for Darrin P.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have known Darrin since meeting him as an eighth-grader at the Fulton County Science Fair. Throughout high school, Darrin has volunteered to support the many initiatives of our foundation—academic celebrations, college planning workshops, and Georgia Criterion Referenced Content Test preparation for students in grades 3 through 8. I have found Darrin to be a self-starter, personable, a leader, and a role model. Darrin has impressed me with his commitment to his studies and personal demeanor in working well with both youth and adults. This is highlighted by an endearing personality and genuine appreciation for the thoughts and ideas of others.
Darrin has utilized his ability to connect with others over the course of the past several years, during which he has accepted a number of diverse areas of responsibilities with our foundation, from tutoring elementary and middle school students in art, math, and reading to working with our own Youth Leaders Program, which has required his assisting other high school students with developing their college-bound plans, engaging in college research, and greatly expanding their college knowledge.
Darrin has accepted leadership roles within a variety of faith-based, school, and community organizations from the art club at his high school to the Education Ministry at his church. I have always been impressed with his intellect, willingness to learn, willingness to accept responsibilities, and eagerness to do whatever needs to be done without hesitation, reservation, or attitude! He truly has been a joy to work with and has provided a fine example to his peers of the character, commitment, and personal desire to excel. I believe that his high school coursework and online classes clearly demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence.
If I have ever met a student deserving of the highest recommendation, it is Darrin P. He is deserving of any college admissions or scholarship consideration that you might extend him.
Re: Letter of Recommendation for Mikayla H.
To Whom it May Concern:
Mikayla has demonstrated leadership as a musician, meticulously perfecting her performance on clarinet, and in the roles of Section Leader, Assistant to the Band Director, and Drum Major of the Lake City High School Marching Band. Mikayla has served as president of the National Beta Club, leading many community outreach campaigns and significantly increasing student involvement. Mikayla has served as the president of the Lake City High School Book Club and is working with other students to cultivate an intellectual culture in a school community where many students are struggling readers. It is this role that I have observed Mikayla scouring over books in the library and online to identify text that would resonate with fellow students. During one her many online research sessions, she asked my thoughts regarding Professor Alfred Tatum's research on 'Enabling Texts.' She was fascinated with the idea of identifying a genre of books that would engage struggling readers and which reflected the cultural diversity of her school and community.
Mikayla is a leader who is not academically threatened by others. To the contrary, she is enamored with those who provide intellectual challenge, those expressing differing ideas and opinions and, who are desirous of working together for change. She surrounds herself with other leaders. She is as comfortable working alongside students with a 4.0 GPA as she is with students who have a 1.9 GPA. As salutatorian of her graduating class, Mikayla has distinguished herself in the pursuit of academic excellence. Even the casual observer will notice that her intellectual curiosity is persistently evident through a self-motivated desire to challenge herself. She is an inquisitive and passionate learner with an incredibly logical mind that is evident in her approach to solving any problem. Mikayla is a purposeful learner who purposefully enrolled in the most rigorous course taking available at her high school and through the dual enrollment program with local colleges and universities. By all accounts, Mikayla was the only student in her high school to request to be enrolled in all available honors, Advanced Placement, and dual enrollment classes and will graduate having earned over 30 college credit hours.
She has an acute and keen mind, quickly grasps the most complicated concepts, and has a relentless work ethic. She believes in the pursuit of answers to satisfy her intellectual curiosity. Mikayla is not only a leader, she inspires. Despite her superior academic achievement, she has close bonds with low performing students—always teaching, encouraging, laughing, and talking. Malcolm Gladwell in, “The Tipping Point,” writes about how epidemics began. I wholeheartedly believe that Mikayla has the potential to become a tipping point for her community.
The Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity
Re: Letter of Recommendation for Karmen P.
To Whom it May Concern:
I first met Karmen as a high school junior participating in the Guilford County Schools First Generation Student Ambassadors Program. The Guilford County Schools First Generation Ambassadors program is comprised of students from a broad range of socioeconomic, cultural, and academic backgrounds who will be the first in their family to attend college. Over the course of the past year, I have come to know Karmen as a young woman with an insatiable desire to learn on the deepest possible level. Karmen does not only want to know, she wants to understand deeply.
Karmen has impeccable academic credentials. She has taken the most rigorous coursework available at her high school and distinguished herself while serving as captain of the varsity track team, captain of the girls varsity volleyball team, and founder of the Young Activists Club. Karmen is a leader who is not academically threatened by others. To the contrary, she is enamored with those who provide intellectual challenge, those expressing differing ideas and opinions and, who are desirous of working together for change. Karmen’s personal passion is matched by her civic advocacy as an outspoken advocate for women’s issues and social justice.
Karmen has been recognized as an ‘Outstanding Student Leader’ in our First Generation Student Ambassadors Program in recognition of her passion for assisting first generation students in their college planning and supporting their college and scholarship research efforts. Karmen has also volunteered to provide critically important information to undocumented students who have lacked guidance and support from counselors at her high school.
Over the period of time that I have known Karmen, I have worked with hundreds of students from throughout the United States and Bermuda and have personally mentored many bright young people. However, what distinguishes Karmen from other bright young people is that she is not only a leader, she inspires. Despite her superior academic achievement, she has close bonds with low-performing students—always teaching, encouraging, laughing, and talking. Malcolm Gladwell in, “The Tipping Point,” writes about how epidemics began. I wholeheartedly believe that Karmen has the potential to become a tipping point for her community. Karmen’s academic success and ability to connect with students across sociocultural backgrounds provides testimony to her intellectual ability and personal affability.
Karmen embodies the character, personal grit, intellectual curiosity, and spirit of teamwork to make a valuable contribution to the UMBC Humanities Scholars Program. I have no doubt that Karmen P. will become a leader in the UMBC community—one of impeccable character, grace, and dignity—and a most distinguished alumnae of the UMBC Humanities Scholars Program.
The Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity
Letter of Recommendation: Avery J.
To whom it may concern:
I have known Avery and his family through Avery’s volunteer participation in our College Planning Cohort and his involvement as a youth mentor at a local middle school. Avery is one of the most remarkable young men with whom I have had the pleasure of knowing and has impeccable academic credentials, character, and focus. I have observed Avery to embrace community service in a manner in which it is clearly an indelible part of who he is as opposed to something he does. In his capacity as a youth mentor at a local middle school, leader at his high school, and leader in his high school orchestra and marching band, I have personally observed Avery’s spirit of service and incredible focus. Avery enthusiastically volunteers and demonstrates the initiative to serve in whatever capacity as needed, whether working with middle school students, band members, or in the weight room screaming encouragement to fellow athletes. In so doing, he has been a constant role model for his peers of the integrity, commitment, and spirit of service that I would imagine your organization to desire in an applicant.
One of the first things that even a casual observer notices is Avery’s genuine authenticity and the warmth of his smile. His level of maturity, personal responsibility, respect for others, and integrity distinguishes him as a leader and role model. Avery has been a joy to work with and has provided a fine example to his peers of the character, determination, and personal desire to excel. I believe that his high school coursework and Grade Point Average demonstrate both a commitment to academic excellence and preparation for continue postsecondary success. If I have ever met a student deserving of the highest recommendation, it is Mr. Avery J. He is deserving of any scholarship consideration your organization may extend him.
The Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity
Re: Recommendation – Dawanya B.
To Whom It May Concern:
In my capacity as the Lake City High School Guidance Counselor, I have the opportunity to work with some of our high school’s most accomplished students. I consider Dawanya as one of the most academically accomplished young leaders with whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and observing in a variety of leadership roles.
Dawanya served as Squad Leader of the JROTC, as a youth mentor for the PRISM Program, and has been active 4-year representative on the Lake City High School Student Government Association. Dawanya is not only a varsity athlete, but is representative of what we hope for in all of our athletes—a scholar athlete.
Dawanya is a natural leader with impeccable academic credentials who has been a joy to watch grow into an outstanding young man over the course of the last four years. He provides a fine example to his peers of the character, determination, and personal desire to excel. If I have ever met a student deserving of the highest recommendation, it is Dawanya B. He is deserving of any college admissions or scholarship consideration that you may extend him.
Senior Guidance Counselor
Lake City High School
652 N. Matthews Rd.
Lake City, SC 29560
Re: Recommendation for Kimberly H.
To Whom it May Concern:
I have known Kimberly since she was in the third grade. Over the course of the past nine years, I have interacted with Kimberly in my roles as a College Planning Consultant, as the Education Ministry Leader of the Turner Chapel AME Church, and as the Founder/CEO of our foundation. I have witnessed Kimberly’s journey from a bright third-grader into a young woman with an insatiable desire to learn on the deepest possible level. Kimberly does not only want to know, she wants to understand deeply. While Kimberly is unquestionably brilliant in math and science, she is brilliant across all academic subjects and music.
Over the period of time that I have known Kimberly, I have worked with thousands of students from the United States and Bermuda and have personally mentored many bright young people. However, what distinguishes Kimberly from other bright young people is that her intellectual promise is matched by her compassion for others. As a third grader, she tutored middle school students in math. As a middle school student, she volunteered her summers as an assistant teacher, teaching math and science to lower income and academically low-performing students. As a high school student, she worked with other students from financially challenged families by creating an online ACT Prep Club to assist students in raising their ACT scores into scholarship qualifying range. While none of the participating students could match Kimberly’s ‘33’ ACT Composite Score, many students experienced as much as an eight point increase in their scores, with most students reaching scholarship qualifying range. I must reiterate that in my role as the CEO of the Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity, I have the opportunity to observe students in schools throughout the country and my personal observations of Kimberly’s spirit of service, academic engagement, and leadership establishes her as one of the most promising college candidates whom I have met over the course of my thirty years as an educator and consultant.
Kimberly has demonstrated leadership as a musician, meticulously perfecting her performance on clarinet, and in her role as Section Leader of the Paulding County High School Marching Band. Kimberly is a leader who is not academically threatened by others. To the contrary, she is enamored with those who provide intellectual challenge, those expressing differing ideas and opinions and, who are desirous of working together for change. She surrounds herself with other leaders. She is as comfortable working alongside students with a 4.0 GPA as she is with students who have a 1.9 GPA. She is willing to work with anyone who is a catalyst for change and willing to provide an example to teachers in the school and parents in the community of the importance of raising expectations.
Currently the number one ranked student in her graduating class, Kimberly has held the number one ranking each year since the ninth grade. Even the casual observer will notice that her intellectual curiosity is persistently evident through a self-motivated desire to challenge herself. She is an inquisitive and passionate learner with an incredibly logical mind that is evident in her approach to solving any problem. For Kimberly, the steps toward solving a personal problem are indistinguishable from those required to solve a math equation. She believes in consistency—consistently apply critical thinking in math and science, in choosing social cliques, and in solving personal problems.
Kimberly is a purposeful learner. As a third grader, knowing that her mother would be unable to afford the cost of college, Kimberly approached me and asked, “Mr. Wynn, what must I do to earn a full scholarship to college?” My response to Kimberly was to develop a 7-year middle-through-high school course schedule of the most rigorous academic coursework. I told Kimberly that if she maintained superior academic achievement and obtained test scores above the 90th percentile that she would qualify for admission into selective colleges with need-based financial aid policies and into colleges with generous merit-based scholarship opportunities. Kimberly left that conversation, as a third grader, with passion, purpose, and focus over the course of the ensuing nine years.
Kimberly is not only a leader, she inspires. Despite her superior academic achievement, she has close bonds with low-performing students—always teaching, encouraging, laughing, and talking. Malcolm Gladwell in, “The Tipping Point,” writes about how epidemics began. I wholeheartedly believe that Kimberly has the potential to become a tipping point for her community. Kimberly’s academic success provides testimony to her intellectual ability and personal resilience. She has already inspired many elementary and middle school students who proudly affirm, “I want to be like Kimberly.”
Each year we hear of a story of a student from a lower income family being offered admission to all 8 Ivy League institutions. Kimberly, not only deserves to be offered admission to any institution to which she applies, but will bring a light of inspiration to whatever college community she graces with her acceptance. As a product of urban schools in Chicago, Illinois, I have always admired the grace and dignity of First Lady, Michelle Obama, also a product of Chicago Public Schools. I have no doubt that Kimberly H. will become such a leader—one of impeccable character, grace, and dignity—and a most distinguished alumnae of her undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate institutions.
Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity