The following examples are fictional and intended to demonstrate how counselors may approach writing a letter of recommendation. All letters of recommendation remain confidential in our admissions process. 

Narrative Example

Dear Admissions Committee, 

My name is Alex Valda, and I’ve been Sam Ellis’ Guidance Counselor for the past two years at Middleton High School. 

Sam has been a hardworking and impactful member of our school and has impressed me with their desire to support others. When I think of Sam, the words that most often come to mind are dedicated, compassionate, and solutions-oriented. Sam has frequently used our school’s “Academic Support” period to work with both teachers and other students – getting help where needed and providing 1:1 tutoring to classmates in several courses. Sam genuinely cares about others and is able to provide this support in spite of their own heavy workload. While most students at Middleton are limited to 4 Advanced Placement courses per year, Sam successfully petitioned for an extra AP class their senior year. To do this, Sam had to write to the Vice Principal explaining why this course would be additive to their studies, detailing what they hoped to learn from it, and providing a plan for how they’d balance the extra workload over the course of the year. 

Academically, Sam is a member of our school’s Humanities Cohort. This program is offered to only 10 students every year and allows students access to an extra elective course in the humanities and a research seminar. Sam shared with me that their most memorable classroom experience was a project on the contrast in rhetoric surrounding PPP Loan forgiveness and Student-Debt Loan forgiveness. Sam worked collaboratively with peers on research for the project, and then used that research for an independent paper. Sam’s teacher told me that it was the top paper in the class.  

Sam is most interested in the topics of business and international relations. In fact, it was this interest that prompted the 5th AP course. Sam had four AP classes lined up for their senior year (Calculus, Literature, Government, and World History), but also knew that an understanding of Statistics would be crucial to pursue their interests. With an eye on their future goals, Sam was able to add that class to their courseload. While unable to add AP Microeconomics to the schedule due to class conflicts, Sam self-studied for the exam and received a solid score of “4.” 

Sam is also a change-maker in our school. As a member of our Student Council, Sam does not hold a leadership position. However, they attended every meeting, listened to others, and provided ideas and initiatives often. Sam was a key factor in creating our school’s annual “Field Day for Charity,” proposing the idea within the council and working with local businesses to support the venture. Sam also spends time as the Vice President of our school’s Diaspora Club and is a regional winner for DECA in the “Business Operations Research” category. While both of these experiences are highlights of Sam’s high school career, they are particularly proud of their work in the Diaspora Club. This organization was founded by Sam and some friends to celebrate the diverse cultures present within our student body, and Sam was instrumental in putting together the yearly cultural showcase which allowed Sam and their peers to perform music and dance that represented their diverse backgrounds. Sam will undoubtedly find ways to similarly contribute to your college community and will be an active and supportive member of your university. They have my highest recommendation.  

Alex Valda

Bullet Point Example

Dear Admissions Committee, 

My name is Alex Valda, and I’ve been Avery Smith’s Guidance Counselor for the past two years at Middleton High School. 

Distinctive Qualities 

Avery is one of the top students I have encountered throughout my career. Words that come to mind when I think of Avery are initiative, mature, and personable. I always know that whatever the task is, Avery will take care of it and even exceed that expectation. They are a quiet leader in class and lead by example often. Avery has helped out at home with younger siblings for several years, making dinner and helping with homework as their mom and dad worked. Avery is also a leader at church, helping teach and mentor younger students. Avery is very driven and takes challenging classes, always doing their best. They will no doubt go far in life, as that is the expectation that Avery has set.     

Academic History 

  • Avery has challenged themself with almost every AP and Honors class that is offered at our high school.  They were unable to take AP Environmental Science their junior year because it conflicted with AP Chemistry, but they were able to take an Environmental Policy elective their senior year.   
  • Avery has had a goal of becoming an engineer since 10th grade, and they have never strayed from that goal. To further this goal, Avery participated in a 2-week long summer engineering program at a local college before 12th grade. Part of the program included designing a prototype, and Avery drew up the schematics for a device that can help keep trees rooted in soil.  
  • Avery is a mature, dedicated student.  They always work hard, and students look to Avery to provide motivation and guidance in their own academic work.  Avery strives for excellence 100% of the time. Teachers depend on Avery to lead discussions in the classroom and look to Avery to provide leadership on a daily basis.    

Activities, Interests, and Areas of Impact 

  • Avery is one of the founding members of our school’s Intercultural Society. They are on the leadership board and have helped develop a cultural night for the families of our students. This program also raises money for the local food pantry. I feel that Avery’s legacy at our school will include being a part of putting this group together.  
  • Avery is a leader at their church, teaching younger students on a weekly basis.   
  • Avery’s parents both work two jobs, so Avery has had to help with extra responsibilities at home. This has limited the amount of extracurriculars in which Avery has been able to participate. 

Final Recommendation

It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend Avery be admitted to your institution. They will be an asset to any college that they attend. Given their engaging personality, desire to achieve, and strong work ethic, I am confident that Avery will shine. 

Alex Valda