How Do I Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student?

March 16, 2023
Posted in Questions
March 16, 2023 Terkel

How Do I Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student?

From giving specific examples to personalizing your letter, here are nine answers to the question, “What are tips for writing a recommendation letter for a student?”

  • Provide Evidence of Their Accomplishments
  • Mention Areas Needing Improvement
  • Discuss Their Potential
  • Show, Don’t Tell
  • Don’t Embellish Too Much
  • Dig Deep Into What Makes Them Special
  • Emphasize Character Over Accomplishments
  • Take Your Time and Be Sincere
  • Avoid Templates

Provide Evidence of Their Accomplishments

When writing a recommendation letter for a student, it’s important to provide specific examples of their strengths and accomplishments. Rather than simply stating that the student is hardworking or intelligent, try to give concrete examples of times when the student showed these qualities.

This could be through talking about a successful project, a task they did really well, or a time when they put a lot of effort into their extracurricular activities. By providing specific examples, you’ll make a more interesting case for why the student is deserving of the opportunity they’re applying for.

Timothy WoodsTimothy Woods
Director, Carnivore Style

Mention Areas Needing Improvement

When writing a recommendation letter for a student, it is important to be aware of the context. It should provide an accurate and honest assessment of the student’s academic abilities, personal characteristics, and extracurricular activities.

While it should be positive overall, it should also convey any areas where the student could use improvement. Focus on specific examples of the student’s accomplishments, such as those that show initiative and leadership.

It is also important to have a logical structure for the letter, including an introduction, body paragraphs providing evidence and examples, and a brief conclusion.

Aviad FaruzAviad Faruz

Discuss Their Potential

When writing a letter of recommendation for a student, I think it’s important to mention not only the student’s past accomplishments but also their potential for future success. This can be important for students who may not have extensive experience in the field they are applying for, but who have shown a strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity, and a willingness to learn. By discussing the student’s potential, you can help to persuade the reader that the student is a good fit for the opportunity and can excel.

Hamza UsmaniHamza Usmani
Head of Content, SEO Audits

Show, Don’t Tell

While it’s important to tell the reader how great the student may be, it’s also important to show it. Back up your words with supporting evidence. For example, if the student is a team player in the classroom, discuss how they’ve helped other students through peer tutoring. Describe the difference they have made in your classroom, which will help make their recommendation letter more impressive.

Lindsay Malu KidoLindsay Malu Kido
CEO, Empower Pleasure

Don’t Embellish Too Much

Don’t sell lies on behalf of your student. Too much embellishment will actually end up harming your student by increasing the level of expectations that others will place on them. Just be honest about your student’s work, performance, personality, and anything else relevant to your recommendation letter.

Flattering words are fine, but keep them complementary and not focused on any sort of expertise or performance-based element you do not have personal experience with when interacting with your student. Your honesty will do your student far more good in the long run than any amount of excess up-selling your words might provide.

Max AdeMax Ade
CEO, Pickleheads

Dig Deep Into What Makes Them Special

My advice for writing a recommendation letter for a student is to make sure you focus on their unique contributions, achievements, and qualities that set them apart from the competition. We should personalize an effective recommendation letter, highlighting the student’s accomplishments with specific examples.

For example, if I wrote a recommendation letter for one of my photography students who was applying for an internship at a local branding agency, I would be sure to focus on things such as his/her exceptional drive and passion for photography and a willingness to take risks in order to create stunning images.

Personalizing the information you include and really digging into what makes each person special that you refer to is sure to end in a happy phone call from them, letting you know of their acceptance with your help!

Stephanie jenkinsStephanie Jenkins
Founder, Stephanie Jenkins Photo

Emphasize Character Over Accomplishments

Focus on the student’s performance in the letter’s body rather than their accomplishments. The admissions staff has a lot of information on the applicant’s academic and extracurricular experiences between test results, transcripts, and the many questions on the application. How the student will fit into their atmosphere is what college representatives are interested in finding out. Provide particular instances of what the student did to succeed.

Did they face any barriers or problems to attain their objectives? For the body, I typically write two brief paragraphs. I sometimes relate their character to academics in the first and to extracurricular activities in the second. Other times, I make the student’s traits the key areas of emphasis. Colleges want to see how a student goes beyond the minimum requirements.

Michael LeesMichael Lees
Chief Marketing Officer, EZLease

Take Your Time and Be Sincere

I have always been on the other side of receiving recommendation letters from my professors and I believe I have gotten where I am today because of glowing letters of recommendation from my teachers. If a student entrusts you with ‌writing a recommendation letter, that’s an enormous responsibility. Often, this letter is very important for their application to an important next step in their career.

When writing the letter, be sure to provide concrete examples of why you are recommending the student. This could include specific details about their accomplishments or commitment to their studies. Highlight their unique qualities and strengths that make them stand out from their peers. Provide a sincere message that reflects your appreciation for that student’s best qualities. It should come from a genuine place and show a genuine connection to the student that you’re recommending.

Aruna KrishnanAruna Krishnan
Marketing Coordinator, Achievable

Avoid Templates

Be descriptive of the student’s qualifications rather than using clichés such as hardworking and ambitious. Support the described skills with examples of work situations and accomplishments.

Consider the requirements for the position that the student applies for when writing the recommendation letter. Rather than being broad and shallow, personalize your letter and focus on it. Each sentence should have a purpose working in a coherent favor of the student.

Marco Genaro PalmaMarco Genaro Palma
Co-Founder, TechNews180

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