Students applying for college, graduate study, internships, and jobs will need recommendations from many sources. Positive recommendations from faculty, activity advisors, volunteer sponsors, and current and past employers can have a strong impact on hiring and acceptance decisions.
Candidates who can share endorsements that demonstrate past success, a positive attitude, initiative, cooperative relationships with colleagues, strong communication skills, and specific job-related skills will be most highly sought after by prospective employers and schools.
One of the most important endorsements for students, who often don't have much formal experience, is a recommendation for the position.
What to Include in the Letter
If you are asked to write a recommendation letter for a student, make sure that you get as much information about the position or area of study that they are seeking as possible to make your endorsement specific and strong.
Analyze the qualities, skills, areas of knowledge, and experiences that the employer or school is seeking.
In your letter:
Share the Student's Strengths. Point out aspects of the student’s education, job and internship experience, and extracurricular activities that will help to prove that they would excel in the job or graduate study.
Highlight How the Student Stands Out. Whenever possible, highlight what is special or distinctive about the student and how they stand out when compared to peers, consider conveying that status. Sharing examples is a good way to show what the student has accomplished.
Offer to Provide More Information. Express your eagerness to discuss the candidate in further detail and share your opinion that the student would be a positive addition to their staff or academic program.
When to Decline a Recommendation Request
If you are not prepared to compose a positive recommendation and defend it, the best approach is to level with the student and suggest that they choose another individual with a better exposure to their background.
Recommendation Letter Sample for College Student
This is a sample recommendation letter for college student. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Recommendation Letter for a Student (Text Version)
Director, Career Office
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
February 8, 2021
Director, Human Resources
Business City College
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Ms. Lee,
I have had the pleasure of working with Pam Lester for three years while she served as a peer advisor in the academic achievement office at ABCD College. Pam exhibited a wide range of skills while building a record of outstanding performance in this role.
Ms. Lester mastered the often overwhelming task of learning the extensive collection of print and electronic resources we use to help students. Pam's diligence, bright mind, inquisitive nature, and unwavering commitment to helping others enabled her to achieve this success.
Ms. Lester was truly unique in her ability to empathize, establish rapport, and reach a very broad range of students from diverse backgrounds. Pam attracted a following of her peers who purposefully sought her out because she had been helpful to them (much like a good professional counselor does). I have rarely seen a peer cultivate these types of relationships with other students during my 20 years of professional experience.
Pam is a good listener who also can convey information clearly and effectively to individuals and groups. Her common sense, research, and detective skills enabled her to find information for students which was not easily locatable.
As you can tell, I hold Pam in very high regard and therefore can confidently recommend her for graduate study which would tap the skills referenced above. I am equally confident that she possesses the empathy, caring nature, listening skills, and intellectual capacity to become a fine professional counselor.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Director, Career Office