5 Tips For Architecture Letters of Recommendation

Sara Mandeed
Written by
Last update:

The only person describing how great YOU are is YOU.

The purpose of the recommendation letter is to show your teacher that you are the only person capable of writing about yourself.

Teachers don’t have much time to go through many recommendations and will often choose the person who can convince them the most that they should take a chance on the applicant.

I have been on the other side of this process – reading thousands of recommendation letters in my time as a collegiate admissions officer. I, too, have found that the best recommendation letters always contain the author’s story, opinion, and evidence explaining why I should consider you for admission. This is the opposite of just anecdotes about you or features that you possess.

Here are some tips for producing the best recommendation letters of all times:

{1}. Make us care about you in the first sentence. YES, That Fast. Even better than an anecdote about you is to get your teacher interested in you by telling us about something unusual or unique that is happening in your life. This might be something no one but your teacher understands you well enough to tell us about. It’s important that we get to know your story, opinion, and evidence quickly and this will help kick-start that process. Make your teacher care about you, not your grades, not your ambitions, etc.
{2}. What does the writer think about my application?

Don't wait for the employer to ask for references, provide the letter(s) along with the rest of your application.

When it’s time to fill out the application (or even before), provide at least 2 references on a business-sized, pressed, and neatly folded piece of paper.

Make sure the reference has your name, address, e-mail, and phone number on the top right-hand corner, and envelope.

Your reference will have an easier time providing accurate information if they have your resume ready and on hand.

If you have a professional panel, let your reference know about it. It could make a difference to a potential employer.

If any of your references will be teaching in your place, make sure they know about it.

For example you could get letters from:

  • Potentials who are successful in your industry
  • Potentials who are successful in your job role
  • Potential sponsors
  • Potential ones from your own industry
  • Potential ones from your potential industry
  • Potential ones from your mentors
  • Potential ones from your college
  • Potential ones from your teachers or professors
  • Potential ones from your community
  • Potential ones from your family

In addition, here are five letter of recommendation tips to keep in mind:

Chose the right reference

The first step in getting a Letter of Recommendation is choosing the right professor who can provide you with a good recommendation letter.

You want a teacher who is willing to write a strong recommendation letter from the beginning. If you have a teacher that only taught you for a semester, then they may not be willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation.

What you want is a talented professor that you did well with and who got to know you. I would recommend aiming for a professor or TA that runs office hours.

Ideally, the best letter of recommendation will come from a professor you did well in class. That would mean getting at least an A- or an A in the class. As a student, it’s essential for you to do well in your classes.

You have to show the college how serious you are about design and everything you do must show that.

When getting your architecture letters of recommendation, ask your professor to write a letter that highlights your achievements, include your level of engagement in the class and your participation in class. Be sure to have a recommendation that is detailed and reveals your hard work, creativity and put your application in a good light.

Don’t be pushy

Professors are wary of this one. If your professor is more senior or well-known within the architecture field, it’s best to let his or her reputation speak for itself. Otherwise, you won’t have to state that they are an important professor, because it will be obvious.

Professors may grumble a bit, but they will generally be glad that you are not insinuating that they would do anything to get good letters.

Compliment then ask

If you are writing a letter of recommendation for a friend, colleague, or family member, first compliment them on the specific qualities that you want the reader to know about. Then use those positive traits as a reason why you are recommending this person, and why they will be a good fit for the position.

The compliment should be specific, and easy for the reader to understand why this particular person stood out to you.

After you establish the positive traits, this should lead you into the reasons why the person you’re writing about would make a great candidate for a position.

Be courteous

In the design community, everything is always a competition … even when you’re trying to get a letter of recommendation.

Don’t ask the same person multiple times – it’s low class and you’ll look ungrateful for being turned down.

Maintain a years-long relationship with all the professionals you ask.

Give them something to work with

Most letters of recommendation included with application packages are for positions in the architecture field. These letters of recommendation are designed to highlight skills and experience relevant to the position you are applying for. You may not realize it right now, but when you write the individual statements of purpose and letters of recommendation for your architecture degree applications, you are writing the letters of recommendation too.

As you are writing your essays, keep in mind that your letter of recommendation writers are going to be reading them. They are going to be reading them to help them recall details of your past experiences and qualities. They will want to know how those experiences have helped you develop your skills and work ethic.

You need to provide them with something to work with.