Letters of Recommendation: Who? When? How?

Who to take recommendations from?

Colleges often ask for two or three recommendation letters from people who know you well. These letters should be written by someone who can describe your talents, achievements and character in a positive light.

Colleges value recommendations because they:

  • Reveal things about you that grades and test scores can’t
  • Provide personal opinions and an insight of your character

Get recommendation letters from people who know you well but are also relevant to your chosen field of studies. You always need one science and one social science recommendation.

When to Ask for Recommendations

Make sure to ask your references at least one month before your earliest deadline to complete and send your letters. The earlier you ask, the better. Many teachers like to write recommendations during the summer. If you apply under early decision or early action, you’ll definitely need to ask for recommendations by the start of your final year or before.

Whom to Ask

 It’s your job to find people to write letters of recommendation for you. But CLC mentors are always willing to help with choosing the best possible people for your recommendations.

Read each of your college applications carefully. Schools often ask for letters of recommendation from an academic teacher — sometimes in a specific subject.

  1. Ask your CLC mentor, teachers, and your school counsellor who they think would make good references.
  2. Choose one of your teachers from junior year or a current teacher who has known you for a while.
  3. Consider asking a teacher who also knows you outside the classroom. For example, a teacher who helped you in mathematics/robotics/entrepreneurship club or advised your debate club can make a great reference.
  4. Consider other recommenders — such as an employer, a coach or someone you volunteered with/for.
  5. Your chosen recommender must be enthusiastic about writing the letter for you.

How to Get the Best Recommendations


  1. Talk to your teachers about your class participation.
  2. Remind them of specific work or projects you’re proud of.
  3. Tell them what you learned in class.
  4. Mention any challenges you overcame.
  5. Give them the information they need to provide specific examples of your work.

Final Advices

Always Waive your right to view recommendation letters on your application forms. Admission officers will trust them more if you haven’t seen them.

  1. Make sure your references know the deadlines for each college.
  2. Make sure the recommenders have uploaded their recommendations in your common app account in the recommenders’ section.

Good Luck !


On Key

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