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How to write a letter of recommendation for a student [Template Included]

Are you looking to write a recommendation letter for a student but don’t have a template or sample? Here’s a detailed guide for you.

When writing a letter of recommendation for a student, start with a salutation, then introduce yourself and your relationship with the student. Next, mention their impressive traits supported with examples and facts. In the end, reaffirm why the institution should accept the student. Finish the letter with a closing salutation and your name. 

As universities receive a lot of applications, a descriptive letter of recommendation that expresses a student’s characteristics and accomplishments beyond academics holds substantial will hold considerable weight in the application process. 

The recommendation letter reveals traits about the candidate that the institution could not have derived from other application documents.

Read on to learn how to write an effective letter of recommendation for a student and see different samples and templates to get you started. 

Let’s start with a sample recommendation letter for a student.

The best student recommendation letter example

Sample letter of recommendation for a student from a teacher
Source: MIT

The image above shows an example of the best recommendation letter for a student. 

It is excellent because it gives the reader a clear sense of the applicant’s intellectual capabilities and emotional maturity in a storied and specific manner. The teacher tells a narrative demonstrating the student’s genuine love for computer programming and how he creates opportunities for himself.  

Overall, the best recommendation letter has strong and memorable statements supported by facts. It also has interesting stories that go beyond academic qualifications. If you praise the student, you must support your claims with examples and give context to the student’s accomplishments.  

Keep reading to learn how to write a recommendation letter that interests the reader and stands out from the typical.

How to write a letter of recommendation for a student

When writing a recommendation letter, use stories that matter to the institution. Narrate any relevant accomplishments and support your conclusions with facts. 

Follow the steps below.

1. Start with a salutation

The salutation is a formal greeting in the letter. If you don’t know the recipient’s name, use “To Whom It May Concern.” 

If you know the recipient’s name, use “Dear (name).” The salutation falls right under the address and always ends with a comma. 

For example, “Dear Peter,

2. Introduce yourself and your relationship with the student

You should spend the first paragraph of your body explaining who you are, whether a teacher, guidance counsellor, or mentor. Doing so shows why you are best suited to recommend the student. 

After providing context about who you are, explain your relationship with the student. 

For example, “I have had the pleasure of teaching [student’s name] for [number of years]. As their [teacher/mentor], I have been consistently impressed by their [skill/characteristic].”

If you don’t know the student well enough to go into specific details, please acknowledge that in the intro. For example, “I do not know [student’s name] very well.” 

Admitting that you don’t know the applicant well allows the reader to focus on other parts of the recommendation rather than wondering why they’re reading a general summary.

Finish the introduction with a statement emphasizing your enthusiasm to reference the student. 

For example, “I am honored to write this letter of recommendation to support their application for [the position/program].”

3. Explain why the institution should accept the student

Ideally, write an honest evaluation based on your experience with the student. 

Consider any situations where the student showed that they could take intellectual risks beyond classroom experiences. Prioritize the most compelling reasons why the institution should accept the student for the program. And go in-depth (give examples) rather than listing positive remarks.

Here’s a simple template you can follow when describing the student. 

“Throughout their time at [school/university], [student’s name] has consistently demonstrated [skill/characteristic]. For example, [provide specific examples that illustrate this quality]. 

In addition to [skill/characteristic], [student’s name] is also incredibly [second skill/characteristic]. He/she demonstrated this by [provide specific examples].” 

If you need to gather more evidence, then do so! 

Find out more about the student from other teachers and mentors to learn about them outside your classroom. Ask the student or speak with their close associates.

What to include in the body of the recommendation letter for a student?

Here are some questions to address in your letter of recommendation:

  • What drives and delights the applicant? 
  • Do they possess any extraordinary skill, aptitude, or command? 
  • How do they relate to instructors and peers? 
  • What’s their personality like?  
  • What’s most memorable about the applicant? 
  • Have they ever gone through disappointment or failure before? How did they handle it? 
  • Does the applicant have unique circumstances in their family or community that the institution should know?
  • If you are familiar with the institution they are applying for, why would you say it is an appropriate fit for the student? How can the student integrate into the institution’s community and grow? 

When writing about the student, avoid discussions on their academic qualifications because the institution will find this info in other application documents. 

You should also avoid general traits like hard work and trustworthiness because many top applicants typically have these traits.

Tip: If you struggle to express yourself formally, you can use WriterBuddy’s paragraph writer to generate these paragraphs. Input a description of your student and list the attributes you want to highlight, then click “Generate Paragraph.” You can then expand on the attributes with personal stories.

Autogenerated recommendation - via WriterBuddy
Sample autogenerated recommendation using WriterBuddy

4. End the narrative with a closing paragraph 

The closing paragraph closes the letter and emphasizes your strong endorsement of the student. Keep it concise by highlighting attributes without providing detailed examples. 

Here are some example closing paragraphs in a letter of recommendation for a student.

“In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend [student’s name] for [the position/program]. Their [skill/characteristic] and [second skill/characteristic] are exceptional and would be an asset to any organization. 

“I am confident they will continue to excel in [the field/position], and I encourage you to consider them for [the position/program].”

Lastly, encourage the recruiter to reach out to you for further information. Express your enthusiasm to speak with them and leave your phone number or email. 

For example,

“Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information or clarification. You can call me at [your phone number] or email me at [your email].  I would be happy to provide additional details or answer any questions you may have.”

5. End the letter with a closing salutation and your name

The tone of the ending should be respectful and professional. If you are unfamiliar with the recipient, the closing should be neutral. 

These are the safest closing salutations: 

  • Sincerely 
  • Sincerely yours
  • Regards
  • Yours truly
  • Yours sincerely 

For example,

Sincerely yours,

[Your name]

[Your title]

If you have talked with the recipient through emails, calls, or at a business event, then go for these professional closings with a personal touch: Best regards, Cordially and Yours respectfully. 

Letters of recommendation should never have informal closings such as Always and Cheers, even if you are familiar with the recipient. 

6. Proofread the letter

Finally, proofread the letter for grammatical mistakes. Use editing programs such as Grammarly or let a colleague read it. 

After editing it, you may let the student read it. Doing so helps the student prepare if you express reservations in the letter. They may also correct any misinformation about them and provide more anecdotes to strengthen the letter. 

After proofreading, submit it. 

What are the five parts of a letter of recommendation for a student?

Opening salutation

Like any other formal letter, a letter of recommendation for a student starts with a formal salutation demonstrating professionalism. For example, Dear Mr. Valentine

Personal introduction

The introduction in a letter of recommendation for a student explains your relationship with the applicant.

introduction - letter of recommendation for student
Source: All Business Templates


The body is the flesh of the recommendation letter.  Here you share stories that will compel the institution to accept the student. You’ll need to give factual information that helps the reader understand the applicant’s personality, skills, and capabilities.

sample body section in a letter of recommendation for student
Source: MIT

Conclusion paragraph

In the last paragraph, reaffirm why the institution should accept the applicant.

“This combination of [all the skills highlighted] sets [student’s name] apart and makes them an excellent candidate for [the position/program].”

As stated earlier, you can also include your contact information.

Closing salutation

Typical of formal letters, end your letter of recommendation for a student with a formal closing salutation and your name. 

For example, 


Benjamin Franklin

Philosopher at All Politics Talk

Incredible recommendation letter samples for students

What does a great letter of recommendation for a student look like? Below are samples you can use as a guide. 

Short recommendation letter for a student

An example of a short recommendation letter for a student
Source: World Templates Online

This short student recommendation letter is concise but still contains several attributes that highlight why Mr. Biswas should join the law program. In her introduction paragraph, she says the applicant was her student; therefore, she is best suited to recommend him.

In the overview, she tells of Mr. Biswas’ participation in discussions which is relevant in a school setting. She details his accomplishment of being the student council’s president, thus illustrating his leadership skills. 

She finishes her letter by expressing her belief in the student’s ability to make a great lawyer. This recommendation is concise, formal, and includes relevant characteristics in line with the student’s future profession. 

Recommendation letter for a student from an employer

Example of a recommendation letter for a student from an employer
Source: World Templates Online

This student recommendation letter details the applicant’s attributes during her employment with Carter Smith. 

Mr. Carter begins by explaining his relationship with Meredith in the first paragraph. This introduction gives him credibility and assures a recruiter that he knows her work ethic. 

He then proceeds to describe Meredith as productive, fast, and accurate. All these are attributes that are relevant in a work environment. He also illustrates how her demeanor was an asset to the workplace and adds desirable traits about her social and verbal skills.

In his final paragraph, he emphasizes his faith in Meredith and urges the recruiter to select her. This recommendation letter is upbeat and has a good length without dragging on. It doesn’t exaggerate Meredith’s abilities or include traits without examples. 

Recommendation letter for a student from a teacher for a master’s program

Sample recommendation letter for student from a teacher for a master’s program
Source: Wiki How 

This recommendation letter details an exciting reference to May’s character. 

Aaron highlights how May became a tutor in her Spanish class which demonstrates that May is a leader. Aaron explains how she displayed leadership and its impact – she helped others raise their grades. 

Letter of recommendation for a student for college

Sample recommendation letter for college
Source: Perfect Your English

In the above letter of recommendation for the college, the professor makes a well-detailed recommendation for Susan Mathews to join Havard. The professor boosts his credibility by stating that they only write recommendations for students they think are highly motivated and suitable. 

The professor highlights the student’s analytical skills and ability to grasp ideas since these are relevant to her application as a student. In addition, they repeatedly insist on believing in the student’s ability throughout the letter without overly exaggerating their opinion. 

By including several attributes, the recruiter becomes familiar with the kind of student he/she will be selecting. 

The letter concludes with an exciting endorsement, saying, “I am sure she will make an excellent candidate for admission.” The professor ends by urging the recruiter to reach out for further information. 

Character/personal recommendation letters

A character reference letter is a document testifying someone’s attributes and abilities. They are written by people close to the applicant because they include anecdotes to illustrate the skills in the letter. 

Unlike other letters of recommendation, senders do not address reference letters to a particular recipient.

The applicant stays with a reference letter on hand to present whenever they send an application. 

What to include in a character reference letter

When writing a character reference, include the following:

  • an opening salutation like “To whom it may concern”
  • a personal introduction defining your relationship with the applicant
  • their best qualities illustrated with personal stories
  • a closing paragraph emphasizing their qualification and encouraging a recruiter to select them
  • end with a closing salutation with your name 

Character reference letter example

Sample character reference letter
Source: Template Archive

Tips to remember when writing a recommendation letter for a student

When writing recommendation letters, use enthusiastic language, give specific examples that describe the applicant’s character and skillset, and avoid information that’s present in a resume. 

Use enthusiastic language

Enthusiastic language shows your eagerness to endorse a student. Use adjectives that fit the context of the letter and the skill you’re highlighting. And while at it, demonstrate with examples.

Here are some examples of enthusiastic adjectives to use based on intent. 

Examples of enthusiastic adjectives
Source: PennState

Give specific examples

Without anecdotes, a recruiter will not gather much from your recommendation. You need to create a complete sketch of the student that helps the reader learn more about the student’s intellectual skills, emotional maturity, and other capabilities.

Check the difference between the two examples below.  

If you need clarification on anecdotes to include, speak to the student, their acquaintances, and other teachers to learn specific details about them. 

Example 1 (no examples)

Source: All Business Templates

In the above recommendation letter, the writer’s description of the student is vague. The writer highlights characteristics that could belong to anyone without specific examples of how the applicant demonstrated them. Universities receive many such applications, so they’re not impactful.

Example of an unspecific recommendation
Source: All Business Templates

Example 2 (with examples)

Example of a specific recommendation with anecdotes
Source: Template Lab

The above recommendation letter paints a vivid picture of the student using personal stories. It is unique and memorable. 

Avoid copying the student’s resume

A recommendation letter that looks exactly like a resume will not convince a recruiter to select a student because they already have the resume.

Instead, give information that the reader will not derive from the resume — for example, stories describing their achievements, unique capabilities, and motivations.

Make bold statements at the beginning and end of the letter

As institutions receive tons of applications, the reader could easily ignore a recommendation letter after reading a generic introduction. So you need to start and end the letter using words that the reader will remember.

For example, start the letter with the most notable characteristic or achievement backed with an example/story illustrating it. If it’s unique, the reader will likely follow through to read other sentences. 

When ending the letter, confidently reaffirm why they’re a good fit for the program and why the university is a good fit for the student.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a document that provides a potential employer, school, or other entity with a positive assessment of an individual’s skills and qualities. It is written by an employer, professor, mentor, or teacher who has had direct contact with the individual and can vouch for their abilities. 

The letter includes details on why they believe the person should be considered for the position or opportunity and comments on their character and professional achievements. 

How long should a recommendation letter be?

A letter of recommendation for a student should range between one and two pages. One shorter than a page shows the writer has nothing remarkable to describe the student. A letter longer than two pages is tiresome and will make the recruiter lose interest mid-way.

Why are recommendation letters important?

Recommendation letters are important because they provide a third-party endorsement of an individual’s qualifications and attributes. They can provide insight into an applicant’s character, intelligence, creativity, and capabilities to potential employers or educational institutions who may not have the opportunity to meet or evaluate the applicant in person. 

Recommendation letters prove that a particular candidate is equipped to succeed in their future endeavors. These letters can tip the scales when two otherwise similar candidates apply for the same position or scholarship.

How do I request a recommendation letter?

Ideally, choose someone with whom you have the closest relationship. Then email them or schedule a face-to-face meeting within working hours. Follow up on the request in time and attach a template if possible. 

You should send your request for a recommendation letter a month before the submission date to allow the writer to conduct research and write the letter in time. When setting up meetings or emailing the writer, choose working hours. 

How do I write a letter of recommendation for university admission?

When writing a letter of recommendation for university admission, consider the individual you’re recommending and their qualifications or experience when writing the letter. Include specific examples of how they are uniquely qualified. 

Additionally, provide concrete evidence demonstrating why the individual is a good fit for the program they are applying to and explain any unique strengths that may make them stand out from other applicants. Ensure the tone of your letter is professional and positive, focusing on the applicant’s accomplishments rather than introducing any negative comments. 

Finally, proofread and edit it before submitting it.

Final thoughts: Letter of recommendation for a student

When asked to write a letter of recommendation for a student, capture all traits that stand out and use stories and examples to demonstrate how they display their qualities. Prioritize the most impressive characteristics to get the reader’s attention.

Format the letter to include an opening salutation and personal introduction showing your relationship with the student, a body narrating the student’s traits, and a closing paragraph reaffirming your recommendation. You should also include a closing salutation, your name, and your title. 

Remember to keep it exciting and truthful. If you have reservations that would hurt the student’s chances, it is okay to decline their request to write a recommendation letter. 

When you need help structuring sentences, use paragraph writer. We have more templates that can help with your writing process. And if you need us to create a letter of recommendation generator, let us know!  

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