Reference Letter Samples for Students and Recent Grads
At many stages of their education, high school and college students require reference letters. At this point, a recommendation can really make the difference as to whether or not a student is accepted to their graduate school of choice, given the opportunity to volunteer for a non-profit organization, or lands a coveted corporate job interview.
While an essay and transcript provide a lot of information, application materials may not give a full sense of a student's personality, drive, reliability, and academic skills.
Reference letters from teachers and guidance counselors offer this necessary insight and information about a student's character.
The following sample reference letters are specifically designed for high school students, college students, and recent graduates. They include character references, references from teachers, and graduate school references.
Personalize Your Letters
While they provide a good starting point, remember that the most effective letters of recommendation are those that are highly personalized, providing unique examples of your student’s personality, accomplishments, and contributions within your classroom. One size does not fit all when it comes to recommendation letters. It’s probably better to refuse to write a letter than to send one that is obviously the same template you use for all of your students.
Sample Student and Recent Graduate Resumes and Letters
Sample Student Reference Letters
College Reference Letters
What to Include in a Letter of Reference
Turn down a request if you anticipate that you would not feel comfortable writing a positive letter of support — this will give the student an opportunity to get a letter from a stronger advocate.
It can be awkward to do this, but it's really better for the student in the long run. You can always decline by saying that you simply do not have the time, or mention that you feel others might be able to provide a fuller, more personalized recommendation.
Make Sure You Have Enough Information
If you do not know the student well, but still want to write the letter, you can request that the student provide you with background materials, including the student's resume, transcript, and a few paragraphs about goals and accomplishments. Busy teachers and guidance counselors who frequently receive requests to write recommendation letters may want to develop a questionnaire for students to fill out.
You might also ask the student which other teachers he or she has asked for a reference, and then have a private chat with them about the student’s strengths and potential.
Before you write the letter, find out some specifics about why the student needs it. A recommendation letter for dental school differs greatly from a letter in support of an application to art school or a letter for a summer job opportunity. Also, make sure you know the date the letter needs to be written by. If at all possible, write the letter within a day or two of receiving the request. This will avoid the letter being buried and forgotten under piles of essays or exams that need to be graded.
In addition, Ms. Ramey successfully set up and implemented classroom systems toorganize student work, grade papers, return them promptly, and enter them into thegradebook. She took daily attendance and entered them into eSIS. She created a positivelearning climate and provided differentiated instruction for a range of student needs.She is friendly but authoritative. She adapts classroom climate needs for differentclasses as well as for individuals, when needed. Students positively respond to her as ateacher. She expects students to be on task at all times and to participate in discussions,activities, projects and assignments. When students make other choices, she is quick toprovide feedback and instruction of appropriate behavior. Her classroom rules applyequally to all students while giving them the freedom to learn and explore.During the year Ms. Ramey effectively adapted her lesson plans for TAG, IEP and 504students. She also participated in meetings, parent conferences and departmentmeetings.Ms. Ramey participated in keeping the classroom blog up to date during her internship,letting both students and parents know on a daily basis about classroom activities,homework, and additional background information to extend classroom learning.Ms. Ramey evaluates, acts upon, and reports student progress in learning. While muchof the daily progress is assessed in the ongoing process of reading and grading studentwork, culminating projects and tests engage students in both traditional and alternativeassessments. Ms. Ramey observes, discusses, diagnoses, and then plans additionalgroup as well as individual instruction. She adapts instruction based on what she haslearned from those papers; takes attendance daily; inputs attendance, progress reportand grade information into eSIS, the electronic student information managementsystem; and provides progress reports to students, parents, counselors andadministrators regularly.Ms. Ramey exhibits professional behaviors, ethics and values. She is dependable,conscientious and professional in her appearance and demeanor while respecting thevariety of cultures present within the school. She works well with students in bothformal and informal settings. In addition to her work as an English teacher, she has alsoassisted journalism students with assignments for the school newspaper Tech Pep.Ms. Ramey has blossomed into an exceptional teacher and has earned my respect andhighest recommendation. I trust she will earn yours, too.