Letters of Recommendation for Harvard

When applying to Harvard University, letters of recommendation play a significant role in showcasing your abilities, character, and potential to contribute to the academic community. In this article, we will explore the importance of letters of recommendation, provide tips for selecting the right recommenders, and guide you on how to maximize their impact.

Importance of Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation provide valuable insights into your academic and personal qualities from individuals who have had a close and meaningful connection with you. They serve as a testament to your abilities and offer the admissions committee an external perspective on your potential as a student at Harvard.

Selecting the Right Recommenders

Choosing the right recommenders is crucial to ensure that your letters are compelling and relevant to your application. Consider both academic and personal recommenders who can speak to different aspects of your character, achievements, and potential. Academic recommenders may include teachers, professors, or research advisors, while personal recommenders could be mentors, coaches, or employers who have observed your strengths and growth.

Building Strong Relationships

To obtain impactful letters of recommendation, it is essential to build strong relationships with your recommenders. Engage actively with your professors and instructors by attending office hours, participating in class discussions, and seeking their guidance. Get involved in extracurricular activities where you can form connections with mentors who can speak to your leadership skills, passion, and character.

Providing Relevant Information

When requesting a letter of recommendation, provide your recommenders with relevant information that will help them highlight your accomplishments and strengths effectively. Share your academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, community service, and any other notable experiences that showcase your abilities and character.

Crafting a Request

When requesting a letter of recommendation, personalize your request to each recommender. Explain why you are seeking their recommendation and how their insights align with your aspirations. Provide them with necessary information such as application deadlines, submission methods, and any specific requirements or prompts.

Assisting Recommenders

Assist your recommenders in writing strong letters by providing them with additional materials that can support their writing process. Offer a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of your experiences. Additionally, suggest specific talking points or qualities you would like them to emphasize in their letters.

Following Up

After receiving a letter of recommendation, express your gratitude by sending a thank you note to your recommenders. This gesture acknowledges their time and effort invested in supporting your application. Keep in touch with your recommenders even after the application process, updating them on your progress and achievements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many letters of recommendation does Harvard require? Harvard requires two letters of recommendation from academic teachers who have taught you in core subjects such as English, mathematics, science, social studies, or foreign languages.

2. Can I submit additional letters of recommendation beyond the required two? While Harvard only requires two letters, you may submit an additional letter if it provides unique insights into your character, abilities, or experiences. However, avoid submitting excessive or unnecessary letters.

3. Should I choose a recommender based solely on their title or reputation? It is important to choose recommenders who have had substantial interactions with you and can speak genuinely about your abilities and potential. Focus on the quality and depth of your relationship rather than solely relying on their title or reputation.

4. Can I waive my right to see the recommendation letters? Harvard allows you to waive your right to see the recommendation letters. This waiver signifies that you trust your recommenders to provide an honest and unbiased assessment of your abilities.

5. Should I provide recommenders with pre-written recommendation letters? It is not recommended to provide your recommenders with pre-written letters. It is crucial for the letters to be authentic and reflect the recommender’s unique perspective on your abilities.


Letters of recommendation hold significant weight in the Harvard admissions process, providing valuable insights into your academic and personal qualities. By selecting the right recommenders, building strong relationships, and providing relevant information, you can ensure your letters of recommendation contribute positively to your application. Remember to follow up with your recommenders and express your gratitude for their support. Good luck with your Harvard application journey!

Note: The information provided in this article is for general guidance purposes only. Please refer to the official Harvard University admissions website for the most up-to-date and specific guidelines on letters of recommendation and application requirements.

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