College Planning

Frequently Asked Questions about Letters of Recommendation

How important are letters of recommendation in the admissions process?

Letters of recommendation are important in the college application process because they help show your personality and character to colleges. College admissions offices use letters of recommendation to learn:

  • What your talents are outside of grades and test scores.
  • What you’re like in and outside of the classroom.
  • How you work with others including teachers, mentors, coaches, and other students.


How many letters of recommendation do I need?

Many colleges and universities ask for 23 letters of recommendation.


What should I do if a recommender declined my request?

If someone says “no” to writing a letter of recommendation, thank them for their time and consideration. Then move on to finding other people to write a letter for you. Find next steps in How to Get a Letter for Recommendation.


Should I waive my right to access my letters of recommendation?

Yes. When you waive the right to review the recommendation letters on your application forms, admissions officers trust them more.


How should I submit my letters of recommendation to the school?

Every school has a different process, but many ask students to submit through their application portal. Visit the school’s website to verify the method of submitting the letters of recommendation in your application. 


Can I use the same letter of recommendation for multiple applications?

It depends. Most colleges prefer that each letter be personalized so it can address how that student has shown interest in that college or why they might be a good match to the college. The substance of the letter won’t change (e.g., your leadership, strengths, and personality).


Some counselors address the letter “To Whom it May Concern” so it can be used for multiple purposes. The student and counselor should discuss the best option for the student.


What should I do if I need a letter of recommendation in a short amount of time?

If you need the letter of recommendation in a short period of time, explain the circumstances to the person you’re asking the letter from. Provide that person with any information that will assist them in completing the letter by the designated deadline.


For more tips, visit: How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation