By the OWU Admission Team

1. Ask the right people. Ask a trusted teacher, coach, or supervisor who you know can speak to your best academic and personal qualities. The person should have known you for at least a year and should know your academic skills and personal traits very well. We want to see letters that tell us little stories or anecdotes about you – stories that show the letter writer really knows you.

Do not ask a family member, friend, or a teacher you had several years ago. Your uncle and your second grade teacher may be wonderful people, but their letters won’t have much credibility.

And don’t ask someone who doesn’t know you well, no matter what their title is. You might think it’s impressive to have the superintendent or your congressperson write a recommendation letter for you, but if it’s obvious they don’t know you, the people in Admissions won’t be impressed.

2. Ask them in person. Emails can get buried too easily. And certainly don’t ask for a recommendation letter by a text with an emoji. Face-to-face communication shows maturity and gives them a chance to ask you questions.

A second option is to hand them a courteous, well written note that’s written on real stationary or a notecard – not notebook paper.

3. Ask early. If you didn’t ask them for a letter when you were a junior, you need to ask during the first two weeks of school in your senior year. Teachers and coaches get flooded with rec letter requests in October and November. Get ahead of all those others, and your teacher will be able to write in your letter how organized and conscientious you are!

If you ask someone at the last minute, they may agree to write you a letter, but it probably won’t be too positive.

4. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Get letters from people who can focus on your best traits. If you have a lower GPA, for example, get a letter from someone who will write about your great work ethic, your leadership skills, or your intelligence on stage or on a basketball court.

Related, if you’re an international student, it’s always a good idea for one of your rec letters to be from an English teacher so we can get a glimpse into English language skills separate from testing scores.

Remember, it's a privilege to write a recommendation letter for someone, so the people you ask will be very happy to hear you thought so highly of them!

When you're looking at colleges, be sure to visit Ohio Wesleyan and find out why OWU is a college that changes lives.

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