Letter of Recommendation for a College Student Example (+ Free Template Download)

Writing a letter of recommendation for a college student is something you might be asked to do as a close family friend, college advisor, or professor. Inside this business letter, you'll be encouraging the student's employment that you have a relationship. This letter should outline the qualities and characteristics that you feel are employable.

College students rarely have any work experience. This means that your letter should contain forward-thinking opportunities for the employer. For example, if you felt they had a strong ability to grasp complex subject matters during your tenure with the student. This could be an employable quality and should be brought up within your letter.

The only major difference between a regular letter of recommendation and one that's written for a college student is that you won't be referring to work experience. You'll need to refer to moments where the student showed enthusiasm, leadership, or the ability to adapt to complex situations.

Letter of Recommendation Template for a College Student

[Your name]
[Your email]
[Your phone number]
[Business name]

[Today’s Date]

Dear [Mr. X]—

I look forward to you having the opportunity to work with [full name of the person who you are recommending in this letter] for the position of [position they are applying for].

I had the pleasure of being able to work with [full name of the person who you are recommending in this letter] at [business name you worked at] during the period of [date] and [date].

During this time, I was able to see [full name of the person who you are recommending in this letter] accomplish the following:

  • [Significant accomplishment or scenario you witnessed with the student during your tenure]
  • [Significant accomplishment or scenario you witnessed with the student during your tenure]
  • [Significant accomplishment or scenario you witnessed with the student during your tenure]
I would love to speak with you more regarding these accomplishments and the professionalism that [full name of the person you are recommending in this letter] could bring to the business.

[Your name]
[Your handwritten signature]

This letter template is simple, easy to comprehend, and gets to an impactful point. If you are having a hard time recalling important situations that the student was in, try to think about their educational performance and bring that to the employer's attention.

Here is how the finished product should look:

letter of recommendation for a college student

Letter of Recommendation FAQ’s

What should go inside the letter?

Your letter should always contain:

  • Your contact information
  • Your relationship to the person you’re writing the letter about
  • A body of the letter which speaks to qualities, skills, or short stories that put the employee in a positive light
  • A formal sign-off or salutation
  • Your name and formal signature

How do you write a letter of recommendation?

  • Take time to write on a separate sheet of paper bullet points that are positive and negative about the person you’re writing the letter for.
  • Use the provided template and fill in the information regarding the name, date, and relationship you have with the person receiving the letter.
  • From your bullet points, state short stories that attribute the qualities you wrote down. This could be verbal communication, team building, adaptability, and all sorts of soft skills or hard skills that you appreciated about your employee.

How do you end a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation should always contain a formal sign-off or salutation. The best salutations for a letter of this nature would be “Sincerely” or “Thank you so much.”

Learn how to end professional business letters.

How do you get a letter of recommendation?

Asking for a recommendation requires sending an email to your manager, colleague, or friend from who you’re requesting one. You should tell them your intended purpose of the letter and ask if they can show qualities you feel will be important to future jobs you’re applying for.

Learn how to ask for a letter of recommendation.

How long should a recommendation letter be?

A business letter of this kind should never exceed one-page. That means the body of your letter should be no more than two to three paragraphs in total. The ideal word count would be somewhere around 500-600 words.

What makes a recommendation letter “strong”?

A strong letter is one that contains bullet points that are impactful to future employers. This would detail positive metrics or significant accomplishments that the employee was able to obtain for the business.

Should a letter of recommendation have a signature?

A business letter of this kind has more impact when it contains a formal, handwritten signature. Though it is not required, it can make the letter feel and appear more official.

Do I need a letterhead on a letter of this kind?

A letterhead can be helpful. It contains your contact information. That can be useful in case the reader needs more detail regarding your letter.

Should the letter be handwritten?

No. Ideally, it is typed professionally, with 10-point font, and in a serif font face. This will appear the most formal and the most professional to the reader.

Where do I send this letter?

Once completed, your letter should be sent to the person who requested it. Never send your letter to another professional, asking for their approval. A recommendation letter is a private document shared between two parties.

Should I send the letter by email?

Email is the best place to send your letter versus a handwritten or printed letter. This helps the receiving party store the letter for future use and allow them to download the Word or PDF document to their computer for future job applications.

What should I avoid having in my letter?

Avoid negative or “areas of improvement” style discussion in the letter. It’s not the right place for that. Suppose you had reservations about the employee. Or wish they could have performed better in certain competencies, keep that to yourself. This is not something you should be sharing in this letter. At all times, keep the letter positive.

Recommendation Letter Templates

More recommendation letter resources.



author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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