College Reference Letter (6+ Sample Letters & Writing Guidelines)

A college reference letter is a document that is prepared by a person who knows the subject of the document professionally. This document is usually prepared in order to introduce the subject to a particular college where they seek admission. This document is usually prepared by a teacher who has professional knowledge of the subject’s characteristics and convictions. This document can also be prepared by an employer who has had a professional relationship with the subject. This document is always positive in nature and as such should be prepared by someone who has had positive experiences with the subject.

Note: In this guide, we are referring (Subject) as a person who require to write this reference letter.

This document is usually requested by the subject when they are seeking admission to a college in order to pursue higher education. This does not mean that it is restricted to high school graduates only. College reference letters are also required when a person is applying for professional colleges such as Law school and Medical school. It is also a requirement when you are applying for a postgraduate degree programme, even if it is in the same college where you pursue your undergraduate degree.

Contents of a College Reference Letter

There are a number of elements that a professionally written college reference letter should have. These elements are:

  • The letter should be addressed to a particular college, this means that the writer should make sure that he is writing to the intended college that the subject has applied to. The subject’s description should be tailored to that particular school.
  • The letter should explain the relationship between you the writer and the subject. This should appear at the beginning of the letter. For a teacher; this section should explain the number of courses the subject took with you and for an employer, it should explain the role of the subject in the organization as well as for how long they have worked there.
  • Be specific, this means that as a writer you should use specific examples that illustrates the subject’s skills and strengths. Therefore it is essential that you avoid general descriptions like hard working and so on.
  • Make sure that you provide your up to date contact information so that if the school has any follow up questions, you are readily available.

College Reference Letter Samples

When you are not sure of how to structure your college reference letter, there are a number of free college reference letter samples and templates provided here. For sample letters, you should take the context and gist it and compose your own. For templates, on the other hand, you take the letter as is and you just replace the names and contact information.

Sample College Reference letter

Dear The Admissions Committee ABC College,

I have Known Karen Smith for a period of four years. She has been my star student in Mathematics and Chemistry. She possesses excellent leadership skills as exhibited by being the chairperson of our mathlete club of which I am the patron.

While at my school, Karen Smith always strived for excellence in everything she did. She was captain of the swimming team, which she led to the regional finals. She also ran an outreach programme for local disadvantaged teens, which earned her the mayor’s recognition. As a person and a leader, she is exceptional.

I do believe Karen Smith will definitely be an excellent addition to your student community, both academically and outside the classroom. If you need extra information please contact me during office hours through this number: 777 777 777 or electronically through

Ed Miles,
Mathematics and Science, Head of Department,
Portmore High School

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