Whether a student is applying for entrance to a school or for a scholarship or an internship, letters of recommendation will heavily influence the decision of the chair or committee. Unlike publicly funded institutions, private schools have the flexibility to be more selective with the criteria upon which they make their decisions. Because of this, the process for writing a letter of recommendation for a private school needs to be individualized and personal. Selection persons and committees will be looking for you to follow a specific formula when giving your recommendation.
Sit down with the student and have him give you information about the school and the goals he hopes to achieve. This will help you focus on what key points you will want to address in your letter. For example, if the school is religiously affiliated, it may be a good idea to discuss if there has been an instance where the student's faith has positively affected his work or your interactions.
Create a list, on a separate sheet of paper, of the student's strongest qualities. Using the consultation you just had with the student as a filter, select four or five of the attributes that will make for the strongest letter of recommendation.
Begin your recommendation by providing the the appropriate formal information at the top of the letter. Give the name and address of the recipient, if known, along the left margin, and list the date.
Address the recipient with an appropriate greeting. Sometimes the name of the reader will be given. In that case, begin by saying, "Dear [name],". In situations where the name is not known, start with, "Dear Sir/Madam," or "To Whom It May Concern,".
Write the introduction. The first sentences should state who you are and your relationship to the student. If you have recently helped the student with an accomplishment, state what the student has done. The last sentence in the introduction should state the purpose of the letter: to recommend this student for admission to the school's program, for consideration for a scholarship or another reason. An introduction should not exceed five sentences.
Form the body of the letter by addressing each of the main points that you selected as to why you are recommending this student. Talk about each point individually and give specific examples as to how the student has displayed these qualities. Talk about any projects or major assignments the student has completed under your supervision.
Conclude your letter by summarizing why you think this student should be recommended. Add any final comments, and compare this student to others that you have worked with in the past. End the letter by thanking the reader and giving your contact information should he have any further questions.
Print the letter on paper that has your school or company's logo, sign the letter and place it in an envelope, if applicable.
A letter of recommendation should be exactly one page in length, unless otherwise stated.
Use traditional business fonts and margins.