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A Complete Guide to Stanford Letters of Recommendation

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Stanford letters of recommendation

While grades may carry the most weight in college admissions decisions, there are many other important components of the undergraduate application process, including your letters of recommendation. These letters allow admissions officers to learn more about who a student is, the role they play in the classroom, and how they might shape their college campus.

Consequently, students need to make sure that their letters of recommendation present them in the best possible light, especially if they’re applying to highly competitive colleges like Stanford University. If you want to learn more about how to ask for a letter of recommendation for Stanford University, read on for some top tips and best practices 

How Many Letters of Recommendation Does Stanford Require?

There’s a lot of uncertainty about how to get into Stanford. Ultimately, the application process includes quite a few factors which will contribute to your admissions prospects.

When it comes to the letters of recommendation, Stanford only requires two from different high school teachers. The university recommends requesting letters from 11th or 12th grade teachers in subjects like math, English, science, history, or a foreign language. Stanford will also accept an optional additional letter of recommendation from someone of your choosing. Consider whether or not to submit a third letter carefully – it should come from someone who knows you well enough to provide insights that you feel don’t come through in other parts of your application. If you don’t have someone in mind that would really add to your application, best stick with the standard two letters. 

How to Submit a Letter of Recommendation to Stanford?

Students submit their Stanford letters of recommendation through the Common Application. The process is completely digital, allowing recommending teachers to submit their letters online. Once your selected teachers have agreed to act as your recommenders, you can enter their contact information into your Common Application. They will then receive an online invitation to submit their recommendation. 

How to Confirm if the Optional Letter of Recommendation Was Sent to Stanford?

There’s no such thing as being too careful about your college applications. If you want to make sure that your letters of recommendation were submitted to Stanford, you can check the portal on Stanford’s website. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to process all materials.

Stanford Letters of Recommendation: What Your Recommenders Should Know

If you want to ensure that your recommendation letters are as strong as possible, you should prepare your recommenders with as much information as possible. Make sure your recommending teachers know that their email addresses have been registered with Stanford University and that all letters must be submitted electronically. 

Here is some additional information that all recommenders should know:

How to Submit a Recommendation?

Once your teachers’ email addresses are submitted to Stanford, they will receive a message with instructions that guide them through creating their recommendation account. Once their account is set up, they will be asked to fill out a very brief form and upload their letter, which can either be a Word document or a PDF file. 

How to Decline a Recommendation Request?

Teachers also have the option to decline a recommendation request, which is why it’s important to be thoughtful when selecting teachers to write letters of recommendation and make sure you give them plenty of time to submit their response. If a recommender declines to submit a recommendation, they will be asked to include the reason for their decision in a message to the applicant. 

How to Make a Change After Submitting the Recommendation?

Applicants or recommenders cannot make changes once a recommendation has been digitally submitted. If recommenders need additional support, they can refer to Stanford’s application FAQ’s or get online help through Stanford’s website. 

5 Tips on How to Ask For a Letter of Recommendation

Aim For Relevant Recommenders

You shouldn’t just ask the first teachers that come to mind to write your recommendation letters. Instead, take some time to reflect on the classes you have excelled in, the teachers that you have worked most closely with, and the potential majors you may wish to pursue in college. Use these considerations to guide your decision about who to ask. You’ll also need to build a strong rapport with your recommenders, which is why it’s important to understand how to get teachers to like you.

If you’re already pretty sure about what you would like to study in college, it’s a good idea to ask a teacher with expertise in that subject. For example, if you’re going to apply to Stanford’s engineering school, it makes sense to ask one of your math instructors to write a letter on your behalf. 

Choose the People That Know You Best

Since recommenders do have the option to decline, you’ll need to be strategic about selecting teachers for your letter of recommendation. Ask instructors who have had time to see how you interact with others and how you thrive in the classroom. If you have had the same teacher for several years, they might be a good person to ask to write your Stanford recommendation letter. This kind of teacher would be able to explain how you’ve grown and matured throughout high school.

Ask For a Recommendation Letter Early 

Don’t wait until the last minute to ask teachers to write your recommendation letters. While it may feel a little nerve-wracking to start the conversations and make these requests, teachers will appreciate having time to compile their responses. The best time to ask teachers about recommendation letters is generally during the beginning of your senior year or the end of your junior year, especially if you’re planning on applying to college via early action or early decision.

Provide Materials

Keep in mind that the teachers who you ask to write your Stanford letters of recommendation likely have similar requests from a number of your classmates. As a result, you’re going to need to put in a little extra effort to help them write the most compelling letters possible. Share a draft of your application essays with them, as well as a list of extracurricular activities and a copy of your resume. You can also include a few talking points, such as assignments or interactions that you are particularly proud of. 

Keep in Touch With Your Recommenders

Think of your recommenders as part of the professional network that you’re building for college and for your career. Instead of letting your communications flatline after your applications are submitted, make a conscious effort to keep in touch with these instructors. Don’t forget to write thank you notes to express your gratitude for their help in your college application process. While requesting your Stanford letters of recommendation may feel overwhelming initially, you don’t have to go through this process alone. Consider Ivywise’s college admission consulting services to help you along the way.


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