A glowing character letter of recommendation can bolster your applications to colleges, scholarship programs, internships and study abroad opportunities. Such letters are used to identify applicants with admirable qualities like honesty, integrity and motivation. If an application indicates that you must attach personal reference letters, pick individuals you can trust to speak favorably about your character and meet the submission deadline.
Who Can Write You a Character Letter of Recommendation?
Most anyone who knows you well enough to vouch for your outstanding character is a potential target to ask for a letter of recommendation. However, before asking around, read the application form to determine if personal reference letters must come from specific individuals, such as teachers, guidance counselors or pastors, for instance. Other potential recommenders include advisors, mentors, principals, coaches, band directors, youth leaders, neighbors or peers. Whoever writes your letter must include specific examples backing up flowery praise. A letter from a neighbor describing why you're a phenomenal babysitter is better than a generic letter from your high school principal who vaguely knows you as a nice kid with red hair.
Character Letter of Recommendation for College
Colleges that require applicants to submit character letters of recommendation like to hear from other professionals that the applicant is considered an asset, not a problem. Admissions officers also value letters confirming that the applicant relates well to others, collaborates and communicates effectively. For example, Dartmouth College encourages college applicants to include a recommendation from a classmate, team member, sibling or lab partner, sharing their perspective on the applicant’s character.
Applicants who share and embody the school’s mission, values and philosophy are preferred. Schools with religious affiliation are particularly concerned about the character of applicants and may ask references to indicate in recommendation letters whether the prospective student smokes, drinks alcohol or takes illegal drugs.
Sample Character Letter of Recommendation
Even if a letter is complimentary, it doesn’t carry much sway if the letter could describe most any conscientious honor student at your school. The opening paragraph should briefly explain how long the recommender has known you and in what capacity. The next couple paragraphs should offer examples that reveal your character. Lastly, the recommender may add contact information.
Dear College Admissions Director:
It's a pleasure to write this character recommendation for Jane Doe’s application to Saint Catherine College. As her advisor throughout high school, I had a chance to get to know Jane and her family. It didn’t surprise me to hear that Jane’s first choice of schools is Saint Catherine College because of your commitment to social justice and her desire to be a county social worker.
In all my years at Loyola High, I've never known a more altruistic, compassionate student. Jane's many accomplishments include organizing a food drive, volunteering at the nursing home, tutoring immigrant children and serving dinner Friday nights at the homeless shelter.
I'm also impressed with Jane’s honesty and integrity. Last semester Jane turned in a billfold she found in the school parking lot. The grateful owner offered her a reward, but Jane declined, saying she was doing the right thing. When a tornado damaged homes in the area, Jane organized a cleanup crew, which reflects her deeply felt desire to make things better for people who are struggling.
Jane is also a serious student who loves learning. In fact, she consistently has the highest scores in Advanced Placement (AP) world history class.
Please don’t hesitate to call me at (310) 555-5555 if you have any questions.