5 Tips for Requesting a Letter of Recommendation on Common App

Understanding the Common App Recommendation Process

Common App Recommendation

If you are applying to colleges using the Common Application, you will likely need to request letters of recommendation from your teachers, counselors, or other individuals who can vouch for your academic abilities, character, or personal qualities. These letters provide admissions officers with a glimpse into your achievements, potential, and personality, and can help differentiate you from other applicants who have similar credentials. However, requesting a letter of recommendation can feel awkward or intimidating, especially if you don’t know how to go about it or what to expect. In this article, we will walk you through the common app recommendation process, from choosing your recommenders to sending reminders and thank-you notes.

The first step in requesting a letter of recommendation on the common app is selecting your recommenders. The common app allows you to ask for up to three letters of recommendation, but not all colleges require or even accept that many. Before you start asking anyone to write for you, check the specific requirements and guidelines for each of the colleges you are applying to. Some schools may only want one or two letters, or may request specific types of recommenders (such as a math teacher, a community leader, or an employer). Others may accept additional letters but discourage you from going overboard, as too many letters could dilute the impact or overwhelm the readers.

When deciding whom to ask, think about which teachers, coaches, mentors, or supervisors have seen you in your best light and can speak to your strengths, passions, and achievements. You want your recommenders to know you well enough to write a positive and detailed letter that showcases your unique qualities as a student, a leader, and a person. Ideally, you should approach your recommenders in person or by email, at least two weeks before the deadline (or earlier if possible), and provide them with any necessary instructions or materials, such as a copy of your resume, transcript, or personal statement.

Remember that your recommenders are doing you a favor by agreeing to write for you, and that they may have other commitments or deadlines to juggle. Be respectful of their time and effort, and be prepared to give them enough notice and reminders as needed. If a recommender declines your request or fails to submit the letter on time, don’t panic or get upset. Instead, try to understand their reasons and find other alternatives, such as asking a different teacher or counselor, or contacting the admissions office for advice.

Overall, requesting a letter of recommendation on the common app can be a nerve-wracking but rewarding experience. By choosing the right recommenders, providing them with clear and timely instructions, and expressing your gratitude and respect, you can increase your chances of impressing the admissions officers and securing a spot at your dream college.

Selecting the Right Recommender for Your College Applications

Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is an essential part of any college application. It provides the admission board with a third-party perspective of the applicant’s academic and personal achievements, character, and suitability for admission. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose your recommenders carefully to ensure that their letters effectively support your application. Here are some tips to help you select the right recommender for your college applications.

Choose Someone Who Knows You Well

Teacher Recommending a Student

Select someone who knows you well and can attest to your achievements, skills, personal attributes, or character. The best recommenders are typically teachers, coaches, mentors, or other individuals who have worked with you extensively over a period. A recommender who only knows you superficially is unlikely to write a compelling and informative letter that adds value to your application.

Consider The Recommender’s Background

College Professor

Consider the recommender’s background and position when selecting them. Ideally, a recommender should be someone in a position of authority, such as a teacher, professor, coach, or supervisor, who can write persuasively and authoritatively about your skills, achievements, character, or potential. However, if you’re applying to a specialized program or field, such as the arts, science, or business, you may need a recommender with experience in that field to provide a relevant perspective.

Timing is Key

Time Management

Timing is essential when requesting letters of recommendation. Give your recommenders enough time to write a thoughtful and well-crafted letter. Ideally, you should request a letter of recommendation at least four weeks in advance of the application deadline and provide your recommender with all the necessary information, such as the college name, application deadline, and any relevant instructions or forms. You should also follow up with your recommender periodically to ensure that they are on track and remind them of upcoming deadlines.

Do Your Homework


Before requesting a letter of recommendation, do your homework and familiarize yourself with each college’s requirements and policies. Some colleges have specific guidelines, forms, or instructions for requesting letters of recommendation, while others may require different types or numbers of letters. Additionally, some colleges may prefer recommenders from specific fields or professions, such as academic or professional references. Knowing these details will help you choose the best recommenders and provide them with accurate and complete information.

Thank Your Recommenders

Thank You

After you’ve received all your letters of recommendation, don’t forget to thank your recommenders for their time, effort, and support. A simple thank-you note, email, or gift can go a long way in showing your gratitude and appreciation. Remember that your recommenders are doing you a favor by providing you with a valuable resource, and you should treat them with respect and courtesy.

By selecting the right recommender, providing them with the necessary information and materials, and thanking them for their contribution, you can ensure that your letters of recommendation are compelling, relevant and add value to your college application.

Tips for Requesting Letters of Recommendation on the Common App

Requesting Letters of Recommendation on the Common App

Asking for a letter of recommendation can be daunting, especially when you need to make the request through the Common App. However, it’s an essential part of your application process, and the recommendations can make a significant difference to your chances of being accepted. Here are some tips for making the process smoother:

1. Choose your recommenders wisely

The first step in requesting letters of recommendation is selecting the right people to ask. Think about the classes where you performed well, the teachers who know you best, and your extracurricular activities. Ideally, you want recommenders who can speak to your strengths and provide specific examples of your abilities. Try to avoid asking family members or friends, even if they are teachers.

2. Give your recommenders enough time

Once you have chosen your recommenders, ask them as early as possible. Remember, they may not only have to write a letter of recommendation for you but also for many other students. Providing them with enough time will give them plenty of time to write a thoughtful letter. You should aim to ask for recommendations at least four to six weeks before the application deadline.

3. Provide your recommenders with necessary details

letter of recommendation example

When asking for a letter of recommendation, you should provide your recommender with important details. These details can include the deadline, the name of the college, and the major you plan to pursue. It’s also important to provide your recommender with details on how to submit the letter. The Common App usually provides a system for submitting recommendation letters. Ensure your recommenders understand how to use it.

Other crucial details you can provide include your resume, a list of your accomplishments, transcripts, and a list of schools you plan to apply to. That way, your recommenders can help tailor the recommendation letter to suit each college’s requirements. For instance, some colleges may require a recommendation letter from a teacher specializing in the field you intend to study.

4. Follow up with your recommenders

After asking for letters of recommendation, follow up with your recommenders to ensure that the recommendation letters are submitted on time. Email or ask them politely if they have submitted the letters, and thank them again for writing for you. A quick email or thank you note can go a long way in showing your appreciation and ensuring that the process runs smoothly.

5. Check in with your school counselor

Your school counselor is well-versed in the college application process and can offer you invaluable advice. They can help ensure that your recommenders submit the recommendation letters on time and help you keep track of other essential documents that you may need to submit. You can also ask your counselor for any feedback they may have on your application and how to strengthen it further.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your letters of recommendation help you stand out and increase your chances of being accepted to the college of your dreams.

Following Up with Your Recommenders and Sending Reminder Emails

reminder email

Requesting a letter of recommendation can be a daunting task, and it’s crucial that you follow up with your recommenders to ensure that they have submitted your letter before the deadline. Sending reminder emails is a helpful way to keep your recommenders on track, but it’s important that you do so in a manner that is professional and respectful. Here are some tips on how to effectively follow up with your recommenders and send reminder emails:

1. Give Your Recommenders Ample Time

deadline reminder

When requesting a letter of recommendation, it’s important to give your recommenders ample time to write and submit your letter. This means contacting them well in advance of your application deadline and providing them with all the necessary information and materials. Giving your recommenders enough time to write your recommendation letter will help ensure that they are able to produce a high-quality letter that accurately reflects your strengths and accomplishments.

2. Check In Regularly

follow up reminder

After submitting your recommendation request, it’s a good idea to check in with your recommenders regularly to ensure that they are on track and don’t require any additional information or assistance. This also serves as a reminder that the deadline is approaching and that they should prioritize your letter. Checking in every couple of weeks is a good rule of thumb, but be sure to use your best judgement based on your relationship with your recommenders.

3. Be Polite and Thankful


When sending reminder emails or checking in, be sure to do so in a polite and thankful manner. Your recommenders are doing you a favor by taking the time to write a recommendation letter, so it’s important to express your gratitude. Use polite and professional language, and always thank them for their time and effort.

4. Customize Your Emails


While it may be tempting to send a generic reminder email, customizing your communications to each recommender will likely yield better results. Address them by name and reiterate your appreciation for their assistance. Additionally, be sure to include any relevant updates or information about your application so they are aware of any recent developments. Show your recommenders that you are dedicated and passionate about your application, and they will be more likely to prioritize your recommendation letter.

5. Follow Up After Submission

thank you email

Once your recommenders have submitted your recommendation letter, be sure to follow up with a thank-you email. Taking the time to express your gratitude and thanking them for their time and effort is a great way to show your appreciation. It will also strengthen your relationship with your recommenders and potentially lead to future opportunities for collaboration or assistance. Remember, a little gratitude can go a long way!

By following these tips, you can effectively follow up with your recommenders and send reminder emails that are professional, respectful, and effective. Take the time to personalize your communications, and always express your gratitude for their assistance. With a little diligence and patience, you’ll be well on your way to securing a great recommendation letter!

Handling Common Problems with Letter of Recommendation Requests on the Common App

Common Problems with Letter of Recommendation Requests on the Common App

If you’re applying to college through the Common App, you’ll likely need letters of recommendation. While this process may seem straightforward, it’s not uncommon to run into issues along the way. In this section, we’ll cover common problems with letter of recommendation requests on the Common App and how to handle them.

1. Your Recommender Can’t Upload a Letter

In some cases, recommenders may have technical difficulties uploading their letters. If you or your recommender encounters an issue, try the following:

  • Ensure that your recommender is using a supported file type, such as PDF or Word.
  • Make sure that your recommender is using a supported browser.
  • Try restarting your computer or clearing your browser’s cache.
  • If all else fails, contact Common App support for assistance.

2. Your Recommender Is Unresponsive

It’s not uncommon for recommenders to forget or miss your request. If your recommender hasn’t responded, try sending a polite follow-up email or talking to them in person. Be sure to remind them of the deadline and provide any necessary instructions.

3. Your Recommender Declined Your Request

If your preferred recommender declined your request, try not to take it personally. Maybe they’re too busy, or they don’t feel that they can endorse you strongly enough. In this case, ask a backup recommender if you have one. If you don’t, try reaching out to a teacher or mentor who knows you well.

4. Your Recommender Is Out of Reach

If your recommender is out of reach due to travel or other reasons, don’t panic. Send them a polite email informing them of the situation and asking if they’d like you to contact them later or if they can submit their letter before their trip. Also, consider reaching out to a different recommender in case you can’t get in touch with your first-choice recommenders at all.

5. You Want to Change Recommenders

If you want to change your chosen recommender, try the following:

  • If you haven’t submitted your application yet, add your new recommender in Common App and ensure that the system doesn’t send a request to the previous one.
  • If you’ve already submitted your application but the recommender hasn’t submitted their letter, contact Common App support for help replacing the recommender.
  • If the recommender already submitted their letter, there’s nothing you can do to change it.

Remember, the letter of recommendation process can be stressful, but it’s an essential part of the college application process. Trust your recommenders to represent you professionally and truthfully, and thank them for their assistance. With patience and persistence, you can successfully navigate any issues that arise with your Common App letter of recommendation requests.

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