How to Write a Brag Letter for College

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Similar to recommendation letters, a brag letter does exactly that, brags. A parent, teacher, counselor, coach or the student herself can write the brag letter, depending on the college’s requirements. Brag letters hail the student’s stellar qualities, and note areas for improvement. College administrators read the letters to get an inside look at a student’s behavior and work ethic, and a behind-the-scenes peek at the individual’s personality and reputation apart from academics. Some preparatory middle schools and high schools also require brag letters.

  • Brag letter form
  • List of colleges and universities
  • Fee (if applicable)

1 Ask your high school

Ask your high school for a brag letter form, or the stipulations for the letter. If you are the student filling out your brag sheet, make sure you have a list of all the colleges you will apply to so that your school can mail a letter to all of those institutions.

2 Think of non-academic achievements to include

Think of non-academic achievements to include. Make a list, on a separate sheet of paper, the student's achievements outside of school. These may include publicized honors, such as receiving art awards, winning recreational sports competitions, or receiving a promotion at a part-time job. As an adult writing the letter, list things the student may not think of themselves, but that you find important to share about him.

3 Studying

List observations about the student's commitment to studying, or a particular hobby. For example, if you are a coach writing a brag letter, consider how the student acts off of the playing field. Is she kind to teammates? Is she competitive in a healthy, helpful way? Does she cheer from the sidelines? Note positive qualities and gently mention where she might improve some areas, such as not feeling too hurt if she's not put into the game very often. For parents writing about students, note how your child studies at home. Does she work diligently on her homework after school? Does she have to babysit her younger brother first before practicing her guitar? Does she engage in community work? Make a list of these observations.

4 Write the letter

Write the letter. Whether you fill out a form or compose a full letter, recount stories and observations in detail. Avoid vague sentences like “He’s a hard-worker” or “She succeeds at everything she tries.” Use specific examples. Write that your son “puts family first. Every evening after school, he watches his baby sister because he believes in family values and does not want us to hire a babysitter for her. Then he spends hours on his homework. We don’t know how he has all the energy.” If a student consistently excels in her attempts, write that she “Demands the most of herself in poetry. She writes poems and shares them with us, her parents, and her friends. She then revises them, driving for success, which she achieves in her creative work.”

5 Mention career goals

Mention career goals. Write a few goals you, or the student you are endorsing, are interested in pursuing. For instance, if the student has expressed that she enjoys reading the newspaper, tracking news stories and fact-checking information, she may on a path toward journalism. However, do not assume you know a student’s goals. She will likely have vastly different ideas for herself than a teacher, coach, counselor or parent can imagine. Have a conversation about career, artistic or scholastic aspirations the student has before drafting the letter.

Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.