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Tips on Asking a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation

how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation
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How to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation is an everlasting question as old as time. There will come an inevitable time when we all need to request an important letter. But asking any person for any favor is not an easy task, especially if you’re nervous or stressed. No worries, we’ve all been there. There’s all this pressure when you’re applying for college. And now you also have to ask someone for their recommendation. Will it be awkward? Will they agree? So many questions and seemingly no answers. Yet, we happen to know how to help. So keep reading to find out exactly how to make your request and ask your teacher for their recommendations.

In case your professor has a busy schedule and trust you with this serious task, turn to a professional college admission essay writing service. Our specialists are experienced in writing application essays, personal statements and other admission-related documents.

Who to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a professor is the necessary part of your application. So choosing any random person will not do you any favors. Besides, they might not agree to write you a thing. Here you need to think about any professor you know outside their classrooms. Maybe you have spoken to someone during office hours. Or you’ve written the paper with your professor. It’s vital that they know the student personally. One should not be just “yet another student out of the hundred.” When one chooses the teacher, feel free to email your request asking for recommendations.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation From a Professor You Don’t Know

The situation is even more stressful if you’re wondering how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation if you don’t know them. Yes, it might happen. But there’s nothing we can’t solve. Choose someone whom any student can like in terms of their field of study, or maybe everyone just admires them. Make sure that the email provides enough information about you. The list enumerating all your skills, talents, and abilities will do best. Even though we advise that you choose those teachers whom you know… Don’t panic if you end up emailing someone unknown.

How to Ask Your Professor for a Letter of Recommendation: Step-By-Step Guide

Here we will answer how to ask the professor for a letter of recommendation. The section below includes all the best pieces of advice. So we’ll talk about writing an effective note, including an efficient resume, and choosing an encouraging candidate from your school. Make sure you have read our step-by-step guide, and we’ll see you there.

Step 1. Choose a Professor Member Who Knows You Well

Believe it or not, but we don’t advise anyone to choose just ‘any’ professor for a letter of recommendation. There must be at least some selection process. Surely, it won’t be Hunger Games, but carefully choose whom you ask. Your best bet is to select professors you know well. And of course, they should know you too. In case there is no one in mind, one can pick any teacher whose class they might like or whose paper they have read. Just send them your polite request and provide your graduate school resume. They still need data used for writing something in the letter.

Step 2. Create a Request for a Letter of Recommendation

Before asking for your recommendation letter, make sure that the future email is actually good. Your message must be concise and clear. Consider that teachers appreciate time management and will not appreciate going through all the lengthy emails. Keep it short and polite. State who you are and the purpose of your email. You might also include… Intrigued? This information is in the next section. 

P.S. State why you chose this specific professor.

Step 3. Describe Main Materials in a Letter of Recommendation

As we promised, your request to write the letter of recommendation must include all the necessary materials. By materials, we mean, first and foremost, what school or job you’re applying to. The list with skills and similar items are valued too. 

Oh, we almost forgot, if the college has specific letter forms, attach them as well. In other words, save time and email everything, including application forms.

Step 4. Describe Information about Yourself to a Professor

When you decide to ask your professor for the letter of recommendation, make sure to have all the needed materials ready. Here we’re talking about such things as graded papers, especially if the teacher doesn’t know you. Your resume is also important. The professor can learn about your skills, talents, and occupation. Lastly, any student can also attach their transcript for a complete picture. Remember: better include more materials than making your professor use their imagination and storytelling.

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Step 5. Send an Email to Your Professor of Upcoming Deadlines

The writer most definitely should ask the professor for the letter of recommendation via email. It’s the easiest option. Besides, they’ll have all the materials within easy reach and won’t forget about your verbal request. 

Apart from what we’ve already mentioned, don’t forget to give them your deadline when the paper should be completed. If possible, email ahead, before required time (not to panic and burn midnight oil). Moreover, teachers are busy and might have several letters to complete. So keep time management in mind! We have the whole blog with tips for time management.

Step 6. Send the Professor Thank-You Note for a Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a professor is one of the biggest parts that are included in your application. So thanking your teacher for writing is only fair. By ‘thanking,’ we mean one or several nice notes with gratitude. 

Teachers need gratitudes and appreciation. Being an average good student, you should value their help, effort, and outside help. Writing will take several minutes, but they’ll feel appreciated. Keep this information for further reference.

Asking for a Letter of Recommendation from a Professor Sample

Any successful recommendation letter sample will be polite and kind. You’re not writing to your pen pal. So keeping your tone light is a must. Besides, being too informal will certainly not make your teacher comfortable. 

You can check the rules of writing professional letters. But they are usually:

  • Polite
  • Formal
  • Clear
  • Brief

Check out the example:

Letter of recommendation sample

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Asking for a Letter of Recommendation: Main Takeaways

That’s all when it comes to asking for a letter of recommendation. You’ll do an amazing job after our little guide, we’re sure of it. So, from now on, collecting references will not be as tedious as it was.

Don’t forget that your professor needs the request letter via email with these items included:

  • Forms
  • Deadline
  • Basic information
  • Previous projects
  • Skills
  • Colleges or jobs you’re applying to.

Asking any teacher you know is the best option, yet any professor can help you with enough materials.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Letters of Recommendation

1. Can I ask non-professors for a letter of recommendation?

We don’t advise you to ask a non-professor for a letter of recommendation. Usually, teachers or supervisors of your research will do the best job. However, if you already have an incredible job, you can ask your manager or team lead to write your letter.

2. How do you ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well?

If one wants to ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well, you should plan the meetup with them. Take some time to know the chosen educator at least a bit. And don't forget: bringing or emailing your resume is the best game plan. It's the easiest and the least time-consuming 'getting to know you' option. Rapid introduction, and you're all done!

3. What do you say when asking for a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is needed for college or job applications. So it must be informative. Thus, give your teacher the resume. The former can include your academic success, experiences, skills, or work habits. Therefore, anything that will help an educator to write comfortably about you is excellent.

4. Is it OK to ask for a letter of recommendation by email?

Your letter of recommendation can be politely requested via email. So, yes, it is more than socially acceptable to email your teacher. Considering online education, sometimes there are no other options present. Thus, it's an excellent day if anyone feels like mastering professional letter writing. You might need it more than you think!

Article posted on:Sep 29, 2022
Article updated on:Apr 7, 2024


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