6 Perfect College Reference Letter Samples

A college reference letter is a document 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.


In this guide, we are referring to the subject as a person who is required 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. 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 program, even if it is in the same college where you pursued your undergraduate degree.

Free Templates

A college reference letter is a written endorsement typically requested by students or job applicants seeking admission to educational institutions or employment opportunities. Utilizing pre-built templates offers a plethora of benefits, saving you valuable time, guiding you through the process, and ensuring a polished final product. With the convenience of readily available free downloadable templates in Word format, you can effortlessly navigate the intricate task of composing a well-structured and persuasive letter.

College Reference Letter Example

Free Printable Principal College Reference Letter Sample as Pdf File
Free Editable Employer College Reference Letter Sample as Word Document
Free Editable Student Scholarship College Reference Letter Sample as Word Document
Free Editable Scholarship College Reference Letter Template as Word Document

Sample of Reference Letter for College Acceptance

Free Editable General College Reference Letter Template as Word File

    Why Should you Use a College Recommendation Letter?

    Many colleges require applicants to present recommendation letters. But even if not necessarily required, recommendation letters can help you build the case for admission.

    Recommendation letters not only matter for what they say but also add some value to an application just for being included. Even if the admissions office fails to go through the letter carefully, they are more likely to note that these letters have been included with the application and that the applicant is the type of person who can drum up recommendations – an endearing quality all on its own. 

    Who and How to Select the Right Person to Write the Letter?

    A counselor, teacher, or coach are ideal choices and should be able to state the facts about the candidate, including being able to describe their personality traits, skills, and work habits. Additionally, the person chosen by the candidate should be someone that they have had a relationship with outside the normal hours of school such as sports teams, volunteer programs, or academic clubs.

    The plus side to this is that universities and colleges understand that, besides the full curriculum, students normally undertake various activities apart from schoolwork.

    How to Format the Letter?

    A standard recommendation letter should fill an entire page (normally between 400-500 words) and contain a general introduction, 2 paragraphs, and a conclusion. The letter should describe the candidate in a way that properly highlights both their skills and academic achievements. If well written, the letter will provide a comprehensive picture of the candidate, which goes far beyond their grades and personal resume.

    1. Introduction: The introduction paragraph should be brief and to the point. Normally 2-6 sentences that, more or less, describe your relationship with the candidate.  
    2. Paragraph 1: The first paragraph of the body of the recommendation letter should highlight the positive qualities of the candidate as well as list their achievements and awards, if any, that they may have garnered.
    3. Paragraph 2: The second paragraph should expand upon the first one, emphasizing the candidate’s participation in school activities, and citing relevant examples of their positive traits. When writing the letter, try to connect the student’s interests and aptitudes to paint a memorable and coherent portrait.
    4. Conclusion: The last paragraph should be anywhere from 2-4 sentences long and should summarize the author’s recommendation of the candidate and also provide a contact method for further questions or clarifications.

    College Admission Recommendation Letter Template


    [Your Name]

    [Your Title/Position]

    [Your Institution/Organization]


    [City, State, Zip Code]

    [Your Email Address]

    [Your Phone Number]


    [Admissions Office]

    [College or University Name]

    [College or University Address]

    [City, State, Zip Code]

    Dear Admissions Committee,

    I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend [Student’s Name] for admission to your esteemed [Program Name] at [College or University Name]. As [Your Relationship to the Student, e.g., High School Teacher, Guidance Counselor], I have had the pleasure of knowing [Student’s Name] for [Number of Years] years and have witnessed their remarkable growth and achievements firsthand. [Student’s Name] stands out as a student for their academic rigor, leadership qualities, and exceptional character, making them an ideal candidate for your program.

    Academically, [Student’s Name] has consistently demonstrated excellence in their studies, particularly in [mention relevant subjects or areas of interest], achieving a GPA of [Student’s GPA] while taking challenging courses such as [mention any AP, IB, honors classes, etc.]. Their intellectual curiosity and dedication to learning are evident in their thoughtful participation in class discussions and their insightful contributions to [mention any projects, research, etc.].

    Beyond the classroom, [Student’s Name] has shown remarkable leadership and initiative. As [mention leadership roles, e.g., president of a club, captain of a sports team], they have successfully led [mention specific initiatives or achievements], showcasing their ability to inspire others and effect positive change. [Student’s Name] also demonstrates a strong commitment to community service, having volunteered for [mention specific causes or organizations], where they made significant contributions through [mention specific activities or projects].

    [Student’s Name] possesses a rare combination of empathy, resilience, and determination, qualities that have allowed them to overcome challenges and support their peers. Their ability to collaborate effectively with others, coupled with their genuine desire to contribute to the community, speaks volumes about their character and potential to thrive in a collegiate environment.

    In conclusion, [Student’s Name] is a highly motivated and accomplished individual who would bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives to [College or University Name]. I am confident that they will not only excel academically but will also enrich the campus community through their active engagement and leadership. I strongly recommend [Student’s Name] for admission to your [Program Name] and am excited to see the contributions they will undoubtedly make to your institution.

    Please feel free to contact me at [Your Phone Number] or via email at [Your Email Address] if you require any further information or insights regarding [Student’s Name]’s application. Thank you for considering this recommendation.


    [Your Name]

    [Your Title/Position]

    [Your Institution/Organization]

    Sample Letter 


    Dear Admissions Committee,

    I am delighted to recommend Emily Sanchez for admission to the Bachelor of Science program in Computer Science at Prestige University. As Emily’s Advanced Placement Mathematics teacher for the past two years at Lincoln High School, I have observed her impressive mathematical aptitude, exceptional problem-solving skills, and unwavering dedication to her studies. Emily’s intellectual curiosity and strong work ethic set her apart from her peers, making her an outstanding candidate for your esteemed program.

    Emily has consistently demonstrated excellence in her academic pursuits, maintaining a 4.0 GPA in a rigorous curriculum that includes multiple AP courses. Her ability to grasp complex mathematical concepts with ease and apply them to real-world problems is remarkable. For her final project in AP Calculus, Emily developed an innovative algorithm to optimize resource allocation in school projects, showcasing not only her mathematical skills but also her ability to think creatively and strategically.

    Beyond her academic achievements, Emily has been an active member of our school’s Robotics Club, serving as the lead programmer. Under her leadership, the team won the state championship in the National Robotics Competition, a testament to her technical skills, leadership abilities, and team spirit. Emily’s contributions to the club, particularly in mentoring younger members and fostering a collaborative environment, highlight her commitment to sharing knowledge and encouraging others.

    Emily’s passion for computer science is matched by her desire to make a positive impact on society. She has volunteered over 200 hours at the local community center, teaching basic computer skills to underprivileged children. This experience speaks volumes about her character, empathy, and dedication to leveraging technology for social good.

    Emily’s exceptional talents, combined with her determination and character, make her a perfect fit for the Computer Science program at Prestige University. I am confident that she will not only excel academically but will also contribute significantly to your campus community through her leadership and service.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me at (555) 987-6543 or via email at alice.johnson@lincolnhigh.edu should you require any further information or insights regarding Emily’s application. I strongly endorse her admission to Prestige University and look forward to witnessing the remarkable achievements I am sure she will attain in her academic and professional career.


    Dr. Alice Johnson

    Senior Mathematics Teacher

    Lincoln High School

    Key Takeaways

    This recommendation letter effectively advocates for the admission of the referred student to Prestige University’s Computer Science program. Here’s why it’s effective:

    Warm Introduction: The letter begins with a friendly greeting to the admissions committee, establishing a positive tone from the start.

    Strong Endorsement: It provides a robust endorsement of the student’s academic prowess, character, and extracurricular contributions, highlighting their exceptional qualities.

    Concrete Examples: Specific instances of the student’s achievements, such as their development of an innovative algorithm and leadership in the Robotics Club, vividly illustrate their talents and accomplishments.

    Academic Excellence: The letter emphasizes the student’s consistent academic excellence, including their high GPA and participation in challenging coursework, demonstrating their readiness for the program.

    Leadership and Service: The student’s leadership abilities and commitment to service are showcased through their involvement in the Robotics Club and volunteer work, underscoring their well-rounded character.

    Contact Information: Contact details are provided for further inquiries, indicating the writer’s willingness to offer additional information or clarification if necessary.

    Overall, this letter provides a compelling and comprehensive endorsement of the student’s candidacy, effectively advocating for their admission to Prestige University’s Computer Science program.

    What Should Be Included in the Reference Letter?

    There are a number of elements that a professionally written 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 how long they have worked there.
    • Be specific, this means that, as a writer, you should use specific examples that illustrate the subject’s skills and strengths. Therefore, it is essential that you avoid general descriptions like hard work 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 letter, there are a number of free letter samples and templates provided here. For sample letters, you should take the context and compose your own. For templates, on the other hand, you take the letter as is and 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 program 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 Edmiles@xyz.com.

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

    About This Article

    Megan Morgan
    Authored by:
    Graduate Program Academic Advisor
    Megan Morgan is an expert in the field of teaching and serves as a Graduate Program Academic Advisor at the University of Georgia's School of Public & International Affairs. She holds a PhD in English, which she earned from the University of Georgia in 2015. With her extensive knowledge and experience, Megan provides valuable guidance and support to graduate students, ensuring their academic success and professional development.

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