Recommendation letters are often used by students during college admissions and job applications. Some graduate schools may even require prospective students to have at least two letters of recommendation during admissions.

Writing a recommendation letter for someone else is a huge responsibility and getting everything just right is important. If you are hoping to get a shining recommendation from a teacher, employer or mentor, here are some tips to guide you in this process.

1. Make sure you choose a person to provide your recommendation that knows your strengths.

2. Give information to the teacher, employer or mentor about who will receive the recommendation and why they are writing it. Few people write outstanding recommendations well, either because they don’t know you well enough or because they don’t want to be bothered. If you help them by providing answers relating to it, they will feel more comfortable in the process.

3. Make sure you give the recommender plenty of time to write up the recommendation.

4. Lastly, thank the person for the outstanding recommendation.

Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email

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