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What should a recommendation letter look like?


Janeway
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Son needs recommendation letters. But the people he asked to be recommenders are asking what the letters should look like or be like. Can anyone give me an idea to this? I am also thinking there might be instructions on how it should be when commonapp sends out the requests.

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For your letter of recommendation questions, you might look at the past threads linked on PAGE 1 of the "High School Motherlode #2" thread, pinned at the top of the WTM High School Board. These are the 3 threads specifically listed under the sub heading of "letter of recommendation":
Letter of Recommendation etiquette & ? 
Letters of recommendation in high school question (collect in early grades of high school for later college applications?) 
Guidance Counselor Recommendation for high school program?

If none of those threads has what you're looking for, check out the 4 examples from this Prep Scholar website article:
"4 Amazing Recommendation Letter Samples for Students".

For your specific Common App questions, you might look at the past threads linked on PAGE 2 of the College Motherlode thread, pinned at the top of the WTM College Board.

BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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When my kids were applying for scholarships and such, I actually gave them a scrubbed recommendation letter that I wrote for a college student of mine. I took out the names and reworked parts of it of course. 

Basically I explained where and how I knew them, and then gave some positives I saw in them. I closed with something positive. I made sure to include my name and how to contact me if they had questions. 

If a college student asks me for a recommendation, and I don't feel good about that, I refuse. I've had a few ask who were frankly less-than-stellar students with bad attitudes, and I told them that I was uncomfortable doing that given my experience with them.  

Edited by G5052
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My suggestion is that, whichever example letters you use - make sure they aren't ACTUAL letters that your kid will be using alongside this person's letter!

We had a LOR writer (Diane) who asked for a sample letter so she would have some idea of the direction. She's a fantastic teacher who loved DD to death, but had only had to write very "basic," low-stress LORs before (whereas DD was using her LOR to apply for a few enormous scholarships, so this lady felt some pressure...).

DD sent her an old letter written by another reference, "Kathy." Kathy has written letters for DD for years. She has a template from an original letter and just updates it and sends it in for DD, so DD had an old Kathy letter saved to her computer and sent it to Diane.

Diane read the letter, put it aside, and began writing her own letter. A couple weeks went by and she finished it, uploaded it to the portals for DD and that was that.

After DD won several of the scholarships she'd applied for, Diane sent DD the LOR she'd written for DD.

Diane had accidentally plagiarized a sentence from Kathy's letter!!! We didn't see Kathy's most-recent LOR, but she had kept that particular sentence (describing one of dd's personal attributes) in every iteration of the letter we've ever seen, so we're pretty sure it was still there.

So, DD won major scholarships with two LORs with an identical, very distinctly-written sentence in both of them. 🥴 I mean, it's a striking sentence that describes DD to a "t," which is why it must have stuck in Diane's mind, butttttt... eek!

DD is half paranoid that one day they're going to re-read her file and bring it up to her one day. 😅

So, for DS, when ppl asked for a sample letter, we sent him some that ppl had written for either of his sisters - NOT one written for him! lol Not making that mistake twice!!

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On 10/28/2020 at 2:40 AM, easypeasy said:

My suggestion is that, whichever example letters you use - make sure they aren't ACTUAL letters that your kid will be using alongside this person's letter!

We had a LOR writer (Diane) who asked for a sample letter so she would have some idea of the direction. She's a fantastic teacher who loved DD to death, but had only had to write very "basic," low-stress LORs before (whereas DD was using her LOR to apply for a few enormous scholarships, so this lady felt some pressure...).

DD sent her an old letter written by another reference, "Kathy." Kathy has written letters for DD for years. She has a template from an original letter and just updates it and sends it in for DD, so DD had an old Kathy letter saved to her computer and sent it to Diane.

Diane read the letter, put it aside, and began writing her own letter. A couple weeks went by and she finished it, uploaded it to the portals for DD and that was that.

After DD won several of the scholarships she'd applied for, Diane sent DD the LOR she'd written for DD.

Diane had accidentally plagiarized a sentence from Kathy's letter!!! We didn't see Kathy's most-recent LOR, but she had kept that particular sentence (describing one of dd's personal attributes) in every iteration of the letter we've ever seen, so we're pretty sure it was still there.

So, DD won major scholarships with two LORs with an identical, very distinctly-written sentence in both of them. 🥴 I mean, it's a striking sentence that describes DD to a "t," which is why it must have stuck in Diane's mind, butttttt... eek!

DD is half paranoid that one day they're going to re-read her file and bring it up to her one day. 😅

So, for DS, when ppl asked for a sample letter, we sent him some that ppl had written for either of his sisters - NOT one written for him! lol Not making that mistake twice!!

LOL!  When oldest dc was applying for a scholarship, dc's employer wrote a LOR.  It was very positive and described dc well, but halfway through another student's name appeared.  Yikes!  Since the employer sent it to us to submit, rather than to the scholarship committee, we were able to have him correct that.  He obviously has a standard letter that he just tweaks as needed.  

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We've given people a copy of DD's resume. I know that was what my recommenders for grad school wanted years ago-it wasn't that they didn't know me, but they wanted to know what to highlight. 

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