Ten Paragraphs of a Good Letter of Recommendation - Professional Development Resources

  • Paragraph #1: How do you know this student? Tell the name of the class, the year, how long, and how well you know him/her.

  • Paragraph #2: Talk about your observations of the student’s work. Ask him/ her to tell you about a particular assignment or class activity they remember and why it stands out in their memory. Ask them to name an activity they especially enjoyed.

  • Paragraph #3: What is unusual about this student? Site an instance where the student did more than was required. Did they come to your office hours? Did they help others? Did they demonstrate enthusiasm?

  • Paragraph #4: List several words that describe the student well. Elaborate. (See Adjectives or use the thesaurus feature on your computer.)

  • Paragraph #5: In what ways does the student still need to grow? (here’s where you may refer to their weaknesses.)

  • Paragraph #6: Is the student employed currently? Or did he/she have any previous work experience?

  • Paragraph #7: List his/her volunteer work – this can be as simple as ways he/she helps at home.

  • Paragraph #8: List his/her extracurricular activities. Sports? Reading? Fitness? Pets? This can sometimes strengthen the image of the student’s well-rounded character, friendliness, health, or other positive attributes.

  • Paragraph #9: What made this student interested in their chosen career track. What person or experience had a profound impact on the student?

  • Paragraph #10: Wrap up. How enthusiastic are you about the candidate? What are your hopes for him/her? Do you have any predictions for his/her impact on the institution or on society as a whole?

View Sample Letter of Recommendation for a Student (PDF).

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