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Why Asking Your Friend to Write a Recommendation Is the Best Idea

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

We trust our friends, right?

We know that they have our backs and would do just about anything for us.

So why not have them write a peer recommendation letter?

After all, they know you more than anyone, in some ways, and can definitely speak to your personality, your leadership abilities and your drive.

So let’s discover what they are and how they can help admissions counselors see you in a new light.

What is a peer recommendation? Which schools require it?

Peer recommendations are letters written by a friend (or teammate, classmate, etc.) and allow colleges to see you from a different (often younger) perspective.

While not all that common, peer recommendations are requested by some universities, such as Dartmouth and Davidson

Both colleges acknowledge they are not only admitting academic scholars but future leaders, dormmates, lab partners and classmates.

They value applicants who are more than just academically talented, and so your peer recommendation focuses more on your personality, leadership, confidence and initiative. 

Who should write my peer recommendation?

A peer can be just about anyone, except a sibling or someone who holds a supervisory role. Perhaps, it’s a childhood friend or even a longtime neighbor. Or you can even keep it academic and pick a partner from a long-term group project.

Make sure you consider the writing ability of your recommenders in addition to your relationship.

Think about the point of view your recommender can offer:

  • How do you two support each other?
  • How do you two communicate?
  • How do you demonstrate yourself as a leader and a friend in their eyes?

Consider not only your conversations together (whether it’s gossip or enlightening discussions) but the activities you participate in together (partying on the weekends or organizing a small business venture). 

What should the peer recommendation include?

Once you’ve decided on your recommender, consult with that person to come up with a game plan.

It’s not too forward to ask them what they have mind or even guide them in things to talk about.

Your peer recommendation should showcase your most important strengths and qualities, and should match the other parts of your application, such as your personal statement and the teacher and guidance counselor recommendations.

Narrow down the key traits you want highlighted, and start brainstorming small anecdotes or memories that the two of you have experienced together that support and showcase them. 

The tone should be friendly and not too stiff.

Ask them to avoid adopting an overly professional manner of a teacher, but at the same time, try not to write too informally.

The recommendation should also include elements such as a statement of support, an introduction of the recommender, and a qualifier of the relationship.

Wanting more info on college recommendation letters?

Circle back to our post on teacher recommendations and learn how asking early helps you in the long run.

See how a little upfront puts you ahead of the pack in securing stellar teacher recos.


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Author: Lauren

Lauren is a college student, double majoring in Economics and Psychology.