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Instructions for Students

In the Program Materials tile of Common Application, you may see a tab called “Recommendations.” This will be available for programs that require or provide the option to submit letters of recommendation. 

Many Common Application colleges require applicants to select at least one Recommender to write a letter of recommendation. These letters of recommendation, evaluation or reference must be submitted by the recommenders themselves. Each Common App school will indicate whether letters are required, the number, and nature of recommender (Academic, Personal or Professional.) It is recommended that students carefully select a recommender who knows them well and can support their application. Recommenders can opt not to write a letter so it’s important for students to seek the permission of prospective Recommenders prior to listing them in the Common App.  

Before getting started, consider the following

Submitting a Request- what you’ll need

FERPA Waiver-The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) gives you the right to access recommendations unless you choose to waive your right of inspection and review. Prior to requesting any recommendations, you are required to indicate whether you wish to waive your rights. Common App will release your decision to waive or not waive access to your recommenders and designated programs. You will indicate Yes or No. 

Instructions for Recommenders

The Common Application recommendation form is in electronic format only. Students will list the individual(s) they want to use as their recommender/evaluator(s) on the Common Application form (professors, counselors, employers etc.), which generates an email to that individual.  The email will provide a link to the Recommender account.

If you do not have a Common Application account, you will be asked to set one up. From this account, you can manage all student recommendation requests

Recommenders will be asked to provide the following information

(all fields up to 5000 characters): 
  • How long have you known the student and in what context?
  • What are the first words that come to mind to describe this student? 
  • List the courses in which you have taught this student
  • Please write whatever you think is important about this student, including a description of academic and personal characteristics, as demonstrated in your classroom and/or the campus community. We welcome information that will help us to differentiate this student from others. (Feel free to attach an additional sheet or another reference you may have prepared on behalf of this student.)
  • Recommenders may upload a letter of recommendation (Optional)
  • Likert Criteria- options are Not Observed or 1 (below average) through 5 (outstanding) for the following: Academic achievement, intellectual promise, quality of writing, creative thought, productive discussion, faculty respect, disciplined habits, maturity, motivation, leadership, integrity, reaction to setbacks, concern for others, self-confidence, initiative, overall.

Recommenders can contact The Common Application Solutions Center at and put "Recommender" in the subject of the email. A Solutions Center Representative will give you a call back between the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday to Friday.

Common Application Help

For Common App Questions, email the Transfer Center at or speak to a counselor during virtual walk-in hours. 

The Common App Help Center is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can provide guidance or answer questions while going through the process.