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Honors Center

Asking for Letters of Recommendation

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation allow professors and other mentors to provide first-hand impressions about the qualities that make you distinctive intellectually, personally and/or professionally. Therefore you should select recommenders who both know you well and can discuss in detail some of your academic or extracurricular accomplishments. Some programs look for a mix of recommenders—faculty, internship or volunteer activity supervisors, employers, coaches, advisors—while others want only letters from faculty with whom you have studied and/or conducted research.

It is important that you help recommenders understand what the scholarship is about, the selection criteria, and why you are applying. You can do this following a few steps outlined below.

Applicants should discuss their choice of recommenders with the National Scholarship Coordinator, Jennifer Lutton at jlutton@ccny.cuny.edu or 212.650.6762

  • Meet with your recommender in person, if possible, or provide clear details in an email, about what scholarship you are applying for and why. Then ask if they would be willing to write a recommendation letter. If they agree to write a letter, provide them with a file that includes: 1. print outs from the scholarship website describing the scholarship, selection criteria, and any guidelines the program provides for recommenders; 2. the link to the Advice for Recommenders page on the CCNY National Scholarships website; 3. an updated resume and attach a separate paragraph highlighting experiences and activities that you think make you a good candidate for the specific scholarship; 4. if possible, a draft outline for the application—personal statement, ideas for research proposal or plan of study; 5. information about deadlines (internal and program deadlines) and submission process.
  • For internal deadlines, drafts of recommendation letters are required. Let recommenders know that the national scholarship coordinator will be available to answer questions and provide feedback on drafts to help them craft strong letters.
  • Ask one or two recommenders to provide feedback on essay drafts. Such feedback is valuable for strengthening your essays and reading application essays can help inform recommendation letters.
  • Give recommenders enough time to prepare letters. Ask for letters at least 6 weeks in advance of the due date.
  • Ask recommenders how they would like you to follow up with them during the process--meetings, email, phone.
  • As they are investing a lot of time and effort on your behalf, remember to send them a thank you after.