How to Request a Letter of Recommendation - Transfer Center

Recommendation letters are letters of support which enhance your application packet, and speak generally to an aspect about you that may not have been addressed through other parts of the application. Consider what you would like addressed in the recommendation letter. Obtain letters from individuals who know you well and can fully speak to the topic you would like covered in the letter.

Whoever you ask to write the recommendation letter, you must do everything in your power to make the process as simple and easy as possible for that person. Their time is extremely valuable and it takes an enormous amount of time to write a good letter on your behalf.

When seeking a recommendation letter, consider the following:

  • Who to Ask: Instructors, counselors, mentors, employers

  • Who not to Ask: Friends or Family

  • What to Provide:
    • Any instructions for the letter
    • Ideas of what you would like the writer to talk about
    • Relevant support documents (unofficial transcripts, sample work, resume, etc.)
    • Special instructions to the writer (attachments, deadlines, mailing or pick-up arrangements)
    • Pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelope for the quantity you need

  • When to Ask:
    • Consider when you need to submit the letters
    • Give writers one month (no less than two weeks) to compose the letter
    • Offer to meet with writer to address any questions that arise

  • Wrap-Up:
    • Send a thank you note/email to the writer after you submit
    • Thank him/her profusely!
    • Be sure to inform writer where you've been admitted and/or the institution you will attend


  • Bloom, J.L., How to Request Letters of Recommendation, 2003
  • Navigating the Transfer Process: A Transfer Workbook, 2009, 27

Out-of-State College and University Resources in the Transfer Center.