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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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How should a Letter of Recommendation look like?

I need to ask my teachers for letters of recommendation soon and I want to make sure I know what to expect. What should a good letter of recommendation look like? Do you have any tips on who I should ask or what they should include?

a month ago

A well-written letter of recommendation can significantly boost your college application by providing insight into your character, abilities, and achievements that the admissions officers may not get from other parts of your application. Here's what a good letter of recommendation should look like:

1. Introduction: The letter should start with an introduction of the writer, their relationship to you, and an overview of your strengths. This background context sets the stage for the rest of the letter and helps the reader understand who is writing the recommendation.

2. Specific Examples and Anecdotes: A strong letter will include specific examples and anecdotes that showcase your skills, qualities, and achievements. These examples should come from both inside and outside the classroom, to help the admissions officer see how you excel in various situations.

3. Comparison to Peers: A good letter of recommendation will also compare you to your peers, so the admissions officers can understand where you stand relative to other students. These details help separate you from the competition and highlight your exceptional qualities.

4. Demonstrated Growth: The letter should demonstrate how you have grown and improved academically, personally, or in terms of leadership throughout your high school years. You want your letter to portray you as not only talented, but also hard-working and continuously striving for improvement.

5. Conclusion: The letter should conclude with a strong endorsement and statement of your potential to succeed at the college level. This final pitch helps solidify the overall quality and impact of the letter.

As for choosing the right teachers to write your letters of recommendation, consider the following tips:

1. Choose a teacher who knows you well: A strong letter will come from a teacher who can provide detailed examples of your accomplishments. This is usually someone who has taught you recently (preferably within the last two years) in a core academic subject (English, history, math, science, or foreign language) and has closely interacted with you in various capacities.

2. Pick a teacher in a relevant subject: If you are applying for a major or a specific program, selecting a teacher who can speak to your abilities in that subject can be beneficial. For instance, if you're planning to major in English, a letter from your high school English teacher would carry more weight.

3. Look for good writers: A well-written letter will be more influential, so choose teachers who are known for their writing skills or have experience writing letters of recommendation.

4. Communication: It's a good idea to provide some information about your accomplishments, interests, and future goals to the teacher, so they have a clear picture of what they should include in the letter and can create a more solid and personalized recommendation.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can help ensure that you receive strong letters of recommendation that will bolster your college application. Remember, these letters are meant to highlight and enhance your achievements, so choose teachers who can genuinely attest to your potential and make your application stand out.

Finally, do be aware that you likely won't ever see your letters of recommendation. Many colleges require that you waive your right to view them, to ensure that they can trust the information they contain is objective. But, generally speaking, they will likely follow the format listed above, at least roughly.

Good luck with your college process!

a month ago

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