5 People You Never Thought to Ask For a Recommendation Letter

We all know how often college applications require letters of recommendation, and how much of a pain it can be to acquire them. Of course you will most likely have to go through the lengthy process of preparing your resume and personal statement before asking for the letter, and then there’s always that tricky question, “Who am I going to ask to write this for me?”

Colleges often like to see recommendations from teachers, guidance counselors, and the like, but if you don’t already know, for most applications you’re not limited to just those options. For a lot of students, there are very few, if any, teachers who know them well enough personally or can effectively express their achievements well enough to write a decent letter. The same goes with counselors. if you’re wondering if they’re all you can choose from, I can happily tell you NO! If you’re having trouble deciding who to ask, here are some people you can trust to write just as good a recommendation letter as any.

1). Your Coach
Your football, soccer, or perhaps even cheerleading coach may not be the most fun person at times, but there probably aren’t many other people who’ve seen you sweat, bleed and cry so much to accomplish your goals. If there’s anyone on this planet who can write a letter that does justice to the amount of determination and effort you’re capable of, it’s your coach.

2). Prominent Figures in Your Religious Community
Not everyone is especially involved in their religious community, but if you’re well-acquainted with leaders of your respective church, mosque, or other worshipping center, they can usually offer a unique perspective of your personality that many colleges would appreciate. As with any potential letter writer, a religious authority might not be the best person to ask if they don’t know you on a personal level. Otherwise, I’d definitely recommend paying them a visit and seeing if they’ll offer you their services.

3). Your Boss
Be warned: this is risky territory. Employees and their employer don’t always see eye to eye, and sometimes it can be hard to tell if your employer sees you as more of a companion than just a laborer. But that doesn’t mean this idea should be swept off the table just yet. Especially if your employer is uniquely experienced in his/her field of expertise, he/she will likely be able to write a letter that not only shows a status of authority, but also effectively demonstrates your work ethic.

4). Your Neighbor
Mister Rogers isn’t the only one stressing the importance of talking to your neighbor. If you’ve ever house-sat, babysat, done yard work, or even watered your neighbor’s plants, you might want to consider asking them for a recommendation letter. Think about it, who else knows how you live on a day-to-day basis like the folks living next door? If your neighbor is also a family friend it’s even better, as they can vouch for your upbringing, character, and even personal development over the years (assuming of course you’ve lived near each other for a while).

5). Volunteer/Internship Sponsors
A lot of students invested in their education tend to participate in a lot of volunteer work, community service, and internship programs. While these are definitely great opportunities for boosting your personal image of civic consciousness, they’re also not bad places to get acquainted with leaders in the world of business, sports, finance, charity, or what have you. If you get to know any of them on a personal level, then surely they can’t be a bad option. If anything, they’ll at least be able to offer a unique perspective on your life that colleges will be eager to hear.

Some, if not all, of the people listed here should be able to write excellent letters of recommendation for you. However, not every student plays football or goes to college, so if you’re still drawing a blank on who to ask, just remember practically any authority figure you don’t call “Mom” will work just fine. Any person you trust, who knows you well, and can express a position of authority will probably be a great candidate for a letter. Regardless of whom you choose, we wish you the best of luck!

written by
Soeren Walls
November 12, 2012

2 Responses to “5 People You Never Thought to Ask For a Recommendation Letter”

  1. Susie Watts
    July 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    As a private college consultant, I would suggest these individuals only if your colleges are looking for supplemental recommendations. Most schools want to see the two teacher recommendations in core subjects more than any others.



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    […] deadline, make sure you talk to your teachers and – if the application permits it – other mentors about letters of recommendation ASAP. Not only do you have to depend on them to get the letters submitted on time, but the less time you […]

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