How to Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student

How to Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student

If you don’t know how to write a recommendation letter for a student, you are in good luck. Writing a recommendation letter is not half as difficult as most people make it out to be so long as you know what such a letter entails. To start off, a recommendation letter for a student is supposed to vouch for their character and skills. This kind of letter will be required in different instances some of which include the following:

  • Application for internship or fellowship
  • Application to graduate school
  • Application for high school students to college
  • Application for scholarship by students

Obviously, this letter should be academic in nature.

Components to include in the letter

In order to master the art of how to write a recommendation letter for a student, you need to know what needs to be included in the letter. Ideally, the letter should contain the following:

  • Honors ad rewards
  • The students commitment to coursework
  • Leadership skills
  • Descriptive superlatives
  • Anecdotes on the performance of the student on tests, in the laboratory and class
  • Description of their skills and character

Tips on how to write a recommendation letter for a student

The student’s background

Before you begin writing the letter, ask for the student’s current resume as well as an addressed and stamped envelope for every organization. You should be sure to countercheck to whom you address the letter to. For instance, it could be to the dean of a music school or music camp director. The letter must be addressed to the person intended to read it as such, accuracy is crucial.

Introductory paragraph

When writing a recommendation letter for a student, ensure the introductory paragraph is just right. Once done reading the resume provided by the student, start the letter by introducing yourself and stating the kind of relationship you and the student have. For instance, “It my greatest pleasure to write this recommendation letter for Tom Scotts a sophomore student at Kent University. For the last 2 years, I have been his music teacher and can confidently speak of his qualifications and abilities for your program”.

Honors and accomplishments

Another thing to note when writing a recommendation letter for a student, is taking into consideration the accomplishment and honors of the student. If you are writing to a music school dean, highlight the student’s music-school related achievements, competition awards outside the school and their involvement in the community.

If they have been involved in any community or school musicals, highlight the same in the letter as well. Do not leave out anything that could be beneficial towards helping the student’s course.

Close the letter

The last section of the letter should attest the involvement of the student in community and church activities as well as any part time work. Also, you can include other school related honors like academic awards, class rank, club involvement and the students GPA. Be sure that you accurately refer to the resume provided by the student.

How to write a recommendation letter for a student- The don’ts and do’s

There are some things that you must do and others you must avoid as you get to know how to write a recommendation letter for a student. These include the following:


  • Make sure you sign the recommendation letter
  • Seal the envelope. In the academic world, blind recommendations carry more weight and they are more professional as well.
  • Ensure you save a copy of the letter for the student.
  • While writing the letter, you should be honest and gracious at the same time. If you have noted any issue with the student’s abilities, address the same in order to avoid being misleading but at the same time, acknowledge the student’s potential for growth.


  • Do not write the student’s history. A single page is enough. You should ensure your words have enough impact that expresses your feelings and thoughts in a concise and clear manner.
  • Do not write a general letter applicable to all your students. It is important to make the letter a personal one. Though this might take a longer time, it has the ability of reflecting positively on the abilities of your student and it also reflects well on you.

More tips on how to write a recommendation letter for a student

In order to write a letter that is well documented, you should also consider these suggestions:

  • Identify yourself promptly while writing the letter and how you know the student. You have to state whether you are their teacher or whether you are part of their seminar department concentrator. Additionally, indicate how your relationship has been over the years.
  • While evaluating the abilities of the student, make an attempt to describe that student in terms of their individual and distinctive strengths. If the student has strengths that come across to you as salient, be ready to back your judgment by providing concrete examples for instance performance, exams, class presentations and papers. More importantly, you should steer clear of the misconception that the higher the number of superlatives you use, the stronger the recommendation letter. Note that the use of a lot of clichés or phrases is not useful at all. In essence, the letter will be far more beneficial to the student if it has substantive information regarding the qualifications of the student.
  • There are instances when you might be asked to rank the student and this can be difficult to accomplish when you have concentrated on the unique or individual strengths of the student. However, ranking should not be a problem if the student is among the top 5 or 10% you have taught or if they rank highly in the groups you teach. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself in order to rank the student include; whether they are motivated, intellectually curious, original or articulate etc. There are some fellowships or schools that have forms requesting such ranking to be broken into specific sections. If you do not have enough information to answer the questions raised or those highlighted in an application, maintain the credibility and integrity if the letter by saying what you know only.
  • While discussing the character of the student, do so in an intellectual fashion by highlighting their traits as well as providing illustrations that are concrete.
  • Once you discuss each of the points mentioned above, write a small summation by providing the main recommendation thrust for the student.

Acquiring information needed to write an effective letter

Meet the student

Though you might know the student well, having an interview with them will help you write a recommendation letter for a student that is authentic. You should use the chance to discuss the long and short term goals of the student as well as get additional precise information where required.

Obtain written materials

As you make arrangements for a meeting with the student, you should ask them to bring along the following documents:

  • A curriculum vitae or resume
  • Transcript
  • An exam or paper they wrote for your course
  • Any literature describing the program or fellowship the student is applying for; this should include specific questionnaires or forms needed for the letter to be completed.
  • A copy of fellowship statement or the application essay
  • Date the recommendation is due and the address- it is preferable if they bring an addressed and stamped enveloped

Another aspect that can greatly facilitate recommendation letter writing is writing it as soon as you are done teaching a student. This is important since then, the impressions they have created are still fresh and vivid in your mind. Consider encouraging students to request these letters early instead of writing them past or beyond senior year. When the letters are written early, you can put them in the House files of the student and keep your own files as well for reference in the future.

Here are some link to samples that will help you know how to write a recommendation letter to a student: letter-of-recommendation-for-student. recommendation-letter-for-student sample.

It’s our hope that from the above information you now know how to write a recommendation letter for a student with ease.

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