Teacher Recommendation Letter for College Template

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As high school teachers, we are often called upon to recommend our students to colleges. This lesson gives you a template you can use for writing such references for your students.

Why Letters Matter

In today's competitive world, it can be hard to know what gives students an edge when applying to college. Many students have good grades and strong test scores, so it can be hard to figure out what makes one student stand out over another. When you write letters of recommendation for your students, you have a great opportunity to use narrative language to describe what makes this particular student unique.

A good letter of recommendation brings a student to life for its readers, who will then be able to understand certain ways this student stands out from the crowd. You want your letters of recommendation to be honest, but you also want to emphasize students' strengths and ways you feel they would contribute to an intellectual and social community on a college campus. If you do not feel you can write a strong recommendation for a student, you should tell them; it is only fair to give them the opportunity to find someone who might be able to speak positively of them.

This lesson offers you a template you can use to recommend your students for admission to college. Let's look at an example if one of your students, Sam, asks you to write a letter of recommendation for him.


The opening of your college recommendation letter should look just like any other professional letter. You should include your name, professional address and position and the contact information of the person you are sending the letter to. Then, you should introduce yourself, describe your position, and explain how you know the student you are writing for, in your case, Sam. It is important to describe:

  • How long you have known the student.
  • What capacity you have known him in; for instance, have you been his English teacher? His soccer coach?
  • Why you feel you are well-equipped to write a letter recommending this student.

Keep the opening brief since you want to get on to the most content-rich part of the letter.

Describe the Student & Strengths

The middle part of your letter of recommendation is the most important part. This is where you have the chance to really describe Sam and make it clear that you think he is a good fit for that college community. In this section, you should:

Name Strengths

Think of three characteristics that make Sam especially strong. These might be related to academics or they might be aspects of personality, athleticism, creativity or character. Then, write two to three sentences about each of these characteristics. If you can provide a particular story or specific evidence to back up what you are saying, you will bring Sam to life more in the eyes of readers.

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