Writing a reference for a school student

When writing a reference letter for a friend, it helps to have a clear understanding of what is a reference letter, how it should be constructed and what should be included. A reference letter is usually written to recommend an individual for a particular position based on their skills and achievements and your personal observation of such skills.

Writing a reference for a school student

Shriram Krishnamurthi First version: Some years ago I was talking to a visiting scholar who was a faculty member in a foreign country. I asked her why letters from her country seemed to be so uninformative. She pointed out that there, faculty never read letters: Even graduate students are admitted purely on the basis of test scores.

The facts were hardly surprising—after all, this is the system I grew up with in India—but after hearing the way she put it, the proverbial bulb lit up. If you never evaluate letters yourself, how would you know what letters should and shouldn't contain?

The feedback—admission decisions—is seemingly random, and therefore of little use. This is an extremely personal opinion.

It doesn't represent the views of my department or my university. More importantly, many faculty may disagree with the opinions here, so use them with caution! What this document is about: Whom this is for: Letter-writers who are unsure of what makes for a good letter.

This may also help students prepare better dossiers to give their letter-writers. A brave student might even point her letter-writer to this article. Mor Harchol-Balter's comments, Michael Ernst's advice. Why Letters Matter Does anyone read the letters at all? We do, rigorously, sometimes as carefully as we read a research paper: In fact, letters are so important, even a bad transcript can be offset by them.

writing a reference for a school student

I know a student who got into a fine graduate program with just a 2. This is because his 2. His letters presumably said so, and illustrated this with several anecdotes. So, not every 2. That's many hundreds of applications in under a month.

writing a reference for a school student

Factor in lots and lots of late letters, classes, etc. For the first pass—deciding whether the application deserves more time or not—I can afford to spend no more than about minutes per application. Keep in mind I've read maybe a few thousand applications, so I've had practice.

If I decide the application is promising, I may spend over half an hour in some cases, days! But in those first minutes, I have to: Now think about whether your letter works in this context.

For instance, some letter writers put a big, prominent paragraph of boilerplate legalese at the beginning of their letter, which I have to read before I realize it's irrelevant.

Could you have buried that in a postscript? Was that the best use of my minute? Call this the One-Minute Rule and write, read, and re-read your letter against this rule before sending it in.

Be Concrete If you take away just one piece of concrete advice, let it be this. The single biggest problem with most letters is that they are filled with abstract generalities and infinitives. If we don't know you or your institution, we can't judge what any of these statements mean relative to our standards.

Always consider the illustrative anecdote: Due to deadline pressure, I asked him to grow a pumpkin in just one month.How to Write a Nomination or Reference Letter Leadership Toolbox Podcast Transcript Centennial Student Union & Student Activities Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Most of us, even as early as in our high school years, will have to have a effective way to develop your nomination or reference letter writing skills. This podcast was.

Citing Your Source. What is a Citation? When you do research on a topic for a report, you are gathering information from other people's work.

Therefore, it is important to give credit to the author whose words or ideas you are using.


When you ask a professor for a recommendation letter to graduate school, you hope he or she can tell great stories about you. What you don’t want is to be known as “the student who asked for a. Sample Letter of Recommendation for High School Student There are numerous reasons a high school student could need a letter of recommendation, whether they’re trying to get into an advanced class, get a good job, or something else, but regardless the goal of these letters is going to be the same, painting the candidate in the best possible.

Academic reference letters are generally written to help students get into graduate school or get internships or jobs. When writing an academic reference letter, focus on the skills, qualities, or experiences the person has that make them a good fit for the specific school or academic program.

If you are requested to write a reference or recommendation letter for a high school student, you may browse through our samples of Recommendation Letter for High School Students so you can have an idea on how to write a comprehensive reference letter for your student at this specific academic level.

Letters of Recommendation