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Comprehensive Letter of Recommendation Brag Sheet | #1 Guide

The key to securing a standout letter of recommendation for your college applications is providing thoughtful detail to your recommender about what you want them to communicate to schools about your strengths. Here’s a complete brag sheet recommendation for you!

What is a brag sheet?

Brag sheets are forms students complete and give to recommenders writing letters of recommendation on their behalf. These sheets provide relevant details and insight into who students are inside and outside of school, offering recommenders context about a student beyond the numbers. They help teachers to recall students’ work and tailor their recommendations to particular strengths that students wish to highlight in their applications, and enable counselors and teachers to craft the very best letters of recommendation possible.

Why should I give my recommender a brag sheet?

Ideally, the recommenders you select will know you well and probably have an idea of what they want to emphasize about you in their letter based on their experience and relationship with you. The brag sheet helps them to get a sense of what you want to highlight in your applications based on your knowledge of your own transcript, academic and career goals, personal statement, and the schools and programs you are applying to.

By providing your recommenders with specific details about the aspects of your performance you want schools you are applying to learn, you can help your recommenders avoid using generic or recycled language when writing about your skills and qualifications. Most importantly, the more detailed the brag sheet, the more effective the letter of recommendation will be—so be as specific and comprehensive as possible!

KEY TIP

Remember, you want your admissions officer to walk away from reading your application having gained a thorough understanding of your hook, or the story you are telling about who you are, what you are passionate about and the impact you have had in your community. Every component of your application should be strategically used to further that goal, including your letters of recommendation.

Many recommenders will have their own brag sheets they will ask you to complete for them, but here is a template you can print and give to your recommender if they don’t have one they already use!

Finally, think critically about why you have selected each of your recommenders. While they are all speaking to your skills and abilities, consider how each of them can uniquely attest to different qualities, characteristics and capabilities that you want the admissions committee to know about you!

What should I put in a brag sheet? (For a Coach, Employer, or School Counselor)

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Your name, personal email (the same used for Common App), and expected graduation date.

Be sure to include the email you check frequently (whether school email or personal email) and be consistent across all of your brag sheets and recommendation requests so that all of the information is organized in one place.

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The due date of your first college application.

Be sure to verify this on the college admissions website. Return your brag sheet to your recommender ideally 2 months prior but at least 10 school days prior to the due date. Be sure to CHECK your school’s policy for recommendation requests so you do not miss a deadline!

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Begin by writing what you would ideally want the opening sentence of your recommendation to be.

Think carefully about how you want to characterize yourself and what you hope your recommenders will convey about you—do you want colleges to see you first and foremost as a hard worker? A leader in your community? Someone with a clear academic or career goal?

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Describe why you have chosen this person to be a recommender for you.

This is perhaps the most important question you will answer on the brag sheet. Your reason for choosing this recommender should correlate directly with the strengths you want your recommender to attest to. As you consider your answer to this question, be intentional about highlighting different aspects of your skills, experience, and performance—what unique experiences and abilities can each of your recommenders speak to?

By providing your reasoning for choosing this recommender in particular, you will better enable your recommender to speak to your abilities. In addition, considering this question can help you to be intentional about highlighting different aspects of your skills, experience, and performance through each of your individual recommendations.

N

Select descriptive words to characterize yourself and/or your personal and academic traits.

These words should be accurate and specific—while our sample sheet provides a list of words you can choose from, you can also brainstorm and list your own descriptors for your recommenders to include!

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Specify your intended major and career goal.

If you know what major and career you want to pursue, be specific about the path you intend to take and any subfield within that career or major you are most interested in pursuing. If you are undecided, do your best to convey your interests and a path that you would be interested in exploring further during your time in college.

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List any awards you have won—these can be academic, athletic, or artistic.

Providing your recommender with this information will help them to highlight specific accomplishments you want the admissions committee to take note of.

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Activities you have participated in and when you participated in them.

These can be academic activities, sports, extracurriculars, leadership roles you have held, work experience(s), internships, or community service. Use this section to give your recommender a well-rounded sense of who you are and what you are passionate about.

KEY TIP

If you have already completed your activities list for the Common App, attach it to your brag sheet to answer this question.

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Describe an academic experience or personal accomplishment of which you are proud and explain why you are proud of it.

This is an opportunity for you to enable your recommenders to highlight accomplishments that might not be reflected in your transcripts or test scores. Consider an accomplishment that is personally significant for you—if you are proud of a paper or project you completed, think about why you are uniquely proud of it. Did you overcome a fear, or research your topic strategically? Did you learn something new in the process? Highlight an experience, whether academic or non-academic, that contributed to your growth as a student and as a person.

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Provide clarity about your transcript and any setbacks you may have overcome on your academic journey.

Help your recommender add context and additional information about gaps in your resume, classes that you may have struggled with, or grades that you feel misrepresent your skills or effort. Remember that your letters of recommendation are not only helpful ways for others to attest to your stellar qualities, but also to fill in the gaps that your other submitted materials might demonstrate.

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Share any unique aspects of your personality or academic ability that your recommender may not know about.

This is your opportunity to let your personality shine!

KEY TIP

It’s helpful to include a copy of your transcript with your brag sheet, particularly for recommenders who have not taught you and who are therefore less familiar with your academic skills and experience.

N

Add any supplemental notes or insights that may help your recommender understand more about you.

 Is there something you want your recommenders to keep in mind as they write your letters that you may not have mentioned elsewhere on your brag sheet?

What should I put in a brag sheet? (For a Teacher)

N

Your name, email, and expected graduation date.

Be sure to include the email that you check frequently (whether school email or personal email) and be consistent across all of your brag sheets and recommendation requests so that all of the information is organized in one place.

N

The due date of your first college application.

Be sure to verify this on the college admissions page and return your brag sheet to your recommender ideally 2 months prior but at least 10 school days prior to the due date. Be sure to CHECK your school’s policy for recommendation requests so you don’t miss a deadline!

N

Write what you would ideally want the opening sentence of your recommendation to say.

Think carefully about how you want to characterize yourself to colleges and what you hope your recommenders will convey about you—do you want colleges to see you first and foremost as a hard worker? A leader in your community? Someone with a clear academic or career goal that this college will enable you to achieve?

N

List of Classes

List the class(es) you have taken with this teacher and the overall grades you received in those classes.

N

Describe why you have chosen this person to be a recommender for you.

This is perhaps the most important question you will answer on the brag sheet. Your reason for choosing this recommender should correlate directly with the strengths you want your recommender to attest to. As you consider this question, be intentional about highlighting different aspects of your skills, experience, and performance through each of your individual recommendations—what unique experiences and abilities can each of your recommenders advocate for?

By providing your reasoning for including this recommender in particular, you will better enable your recommender to speak to your abilities. In addition, considering this question can help you to be intentional about highlighting different aspects of your skills, experience, and performance through each of your individual recommendations.

N

Specify your intended major and career goal.

If you know what major and career you want to pursue, be specific about the path you intend to take and any subfield within that career or major you are most interested in. If you are undecided, do your best to convey your interests and a path that you would be interested in exploring further during your time in college.

N

Describe an academic experience that you are proud of.

While the teacher has seen your work in the classroom, this is an opportunity to help the teacher contextualize that work and add depth to their understanding of your abilities and work ethic. Did you submit a strong final paper or give a particularly engaging presentation? Did you gain a new passion or interest as a result of the class? Use this question to enlighten the teacher about a strength or accomplishment that is of personal importance to you and that will help add dimension to your academic abilities and interests. Highlight an experience, whether academic or non-academic, that contributed to your growth as a student and a person.

N

Provide clarity about your transcript and any setbacks you may have overcome on your academic journey.

Help your recommender to add context and additional information to gaps in your resume, classes that you may have struggled with, or grades that you don’t feel are an accurate representation of your skills or effort. Remember that your letters of recommendation are not only helpful to attest to your stellar qualities, but also to fill in the gaps that your materials might explain.

N

Select descriptive words to characterize yourself and/or personal and academic traits.

These words should be accurate and specific—while our sample sheet provides a list of words to choose from, you can also brainstorm your own descriptors for your recommenders to include!

N

Detail a challenge you faced in a class with this teacher and how you overcame it.

Think specifically about what you learned in the process of overcoming that particular hurdle and how those lessons have informed who you are today.

N

Specify your intended major and career goal.

If you know what major and career you want to pursue, be specific about the path you intend to take and any subfield within that career or major you are most interested in. If you are undecided, do your best to convey your interests and a path that you would be interested in exploring further during your time in college. You should also highlight the ways in which your interests may intersect with lessons you learned or insights you gathered from the classes you took with this teacher. Why are they uniquely suited to speak to your academic abilities within the particular discipline you have chosen to pursue?

N

Share any unique aspects of your personality or academic ability that your recommender may not know about.

This is your opportunity to let your personality shine!

KEY TIP

It’s helpful to also include a copy of your transcript with your brag sheet, particularly for recommenders who have not taught you and are therefore less familiar with your academic skills and experience.

N

Add any supplemental notes or insights that may help your recommender understand more about you.

Is there something you want your recommenders to keep in mind as they write your letters that you may not have mentioned elsewhere on your brag sheet?

DOWNLOAD THE FREE BRAG SHEET TEMPLATE

College List Planning Worksheet

Student Brag Sheet Template for Coaches/Employer/School Counselor

College List Planning Worksheet

Student Brag Sheet Template for
Teachers

DOWNLOAD THE FREE BRAG SHEET TEMPLATE

College List Planning Worksheet

Student Brag Sheet Template for Coaches/Employer/School Counselor

College List Planning Worksheet

Student Brag Sheet Template for
Teachers

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