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Feb 14 2018
by Graysen Reid

6 Tips for Asking for Recommendation Letters

By Graysen Reid - Feb 14 2018

Our college years are filled with jobs, internships and extra experiences to add to our resume. One of the most important things that you can do during these years is make connections with your professors. Professors are mentors that will help guide you along the right path in college and beyond. However, it can be a little scary when asking for a recommendation letter. Maybe you have a little bit of practice from high school, maybe you don't, either way, it can still be intimidating to ask your professors. Here are a few tips that will make the process a little easier both on you and the person you are asking.

1.  Make a Connection

The first thing you have to do is make a connection with your professor. Whether this is engaging in class or meeting in office hours, the person you are asking needs to know who you are before they can brag about you to others! This can be easier if you are in a smaller class, but bigger lectures might require a little bit more effort. If a professor knows exactly who you are, they will be much more willing to write your letter.

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2. Give Plenty of Time

As soon as you find out that you will need a letter of recommendation, let the person know. You want to show the person that you respect their time and understand how busy they are. If you wait until the last minute to tell the person you are asking, it puts extra stress on them and you.  

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3. Prepare Ahead

In addition to giving the person plenty of time, you also want to make sure you are prepared when asking them. Make sure you have any documents they might need in advance so you can be ready when the time comes. This also can serve as reflection of the kind of student you are. If you come prepared, they can see that you are probably a qualified student as well.

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4. Be Polite

When actually asking for your letter, you want to be as polite as possible. Remember, you are asking them to use their own time for your purposes. By asking nicely and being respectful, the person you are asking can see that you care and are thankful for their help.

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5. Be Patient

Sometimes, it can be a little nerve-wracking when you are waiting for your letter. However, you just have to be patient and wait for them to get it done. You can give them reminders depending on how far out that you let them know. Most of the time, a simple reminder can be helpful rather than annoying as long as you don't constantly remind them.

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6. Thank You Notes

Once you finally get your letter, you have to show your appreciation. Besides thanking them in person, send them a thank you note! Handwritten notes can be more meaningful than verbal expressions and it shows the person that you took the time to show your appreciation for them.

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Asking for recommendation letters doesn't have to be intimidating as long as you use some of the tips listed above. Remember, your professors want to help you in any way they can!

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Graysen Reid - University of Texas at Austin

Graysen is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Journalism. At her high school, she played softball and was on the Spelling and Vocabulary Team. She loves reading and watching Netflix. Follow her on Twitter @graysen_reid!

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