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Use Gmail to Request a Letter of Recommendation

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In this extension, you will use Gmail to request a letter of recommendation.

Sometimes called a reference letter, this is a document written by someone who can talk about your unique characteristics, capabilities, and qualities.

Letters of recommendation may be necessary when applying to school programs, such as an academic summer camp a magnet school a college or university a trade school or a certificate program.

These organizations request and value recommendation letters because they: Share information about you beyond grades and test scores, Provide personal opinions about your character, Highlight your strengths, interests, and role in the school community, And illustrate the direction you may take in the future.

When asking for recommendations, first consider timing.

Begin the process at least one month before your earliest application deadline.

The recommendations will be stronger if people are not rushed to complete them.

Now, think about who to ask.

Read your applications carefully.

Some organizations will request a reference from a teacher of a particular subject.

Or, they might specifically want a letter from your guidance counselor.

You might ask someone with expertise in the field you wish to pursue.

For instance, if you’re applying to a language program, ask your Spanish teacher.

Consider someone who knows you both inside and outside the classroom and who has interacted with you recently.

Maybe a teacher taught you social studies and directed you in the school musical.

Or perhaps you interacted with your science teacher at your community center over summer breaks.

Other adults -- such as an employer, coach, camp counselor, or religious leader -- also can make great references.

When you have decided who to ask, open your Gmail account and compose an email.

Type the email address in the “To” field.”

Until you’re ready to ask for actual recommendations, just send the email to yourself.

For the subject, write “Letter of recommendation.”

Use a formal greeting.

Then, ask them to write you a letter of recommendation.

Include where you are applying and information to help them write a strong letter.

Your email should let them know what you’d like them to focus on.

For example, describe: Projects that you are proud of Something you learned in class that was meaningful to you A list of your accomplishments A list of relevant extracurricular activities And your plans for the future.

If necessary, discuss any concerns.

Perhaps you had low grades after moving to a new town.

Explain why you had difficulty, and discuss how you have improved since then.

Also include the deadline and any other instructions for completing the letter.

Close and sign your message in a professional and friendly manner.

Finally, once you’ve been accepted and decided on your next academic steps, be sure to write or email thank-you notes.

Tell them where you will be studying, and let them know how much you appreciate their support.

Now, it’s your turn: Begin at least one month prior to the deadline.

Decide who to ask.

Email your request with key details and information.

And send thank-you notes.

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