Asking for a Letter of
Do you need a letter of recommendation? Here is some
advice about how to get the best letter of recommendation.
Ask your professor in person.
It takes time and care to write a good letter of recommendation.
Ask your professor nicely, politely and sensitively. Ask in person
(not by a quickly jotted, informal email in all lower case!).
Ask well before the deadline.
Professors are busy, and so you should ask for the letter well
in advance of the due date. How far in advance? At least a month
before the due date, the earlier the better. Never ask for a letter
with fewer than two weeks until the deadline. Don't forget to
tell the professor the due date of application!
Make your professor's job easy.
Fill out as much information as you can. If the recommendation
is on a graduate school form, then, before you give the form to
the professor, write the professor's name, address, phone number,
etc. If the recommendation needs to be mailed, give the professor
a stamped, addressed envelope. These courtesies are especially
important if the professor must write several recommendations.
The more information you provide, the
better letter you'll get.
Just because you did well in
the professor's class doesn't mean that they know you well. This
is very important: the more information you can give the professor,
the better the letter your professor can write! You may want to
provide some or all of the following...
|- Your resume
- Information about the program to which
- Honor societies to which you belong
- Anything that makes you unique
- Awards that you have won
- Relevant work experience or internships
|- Service activities such as
- Copies of admissions essays
- Information about your experiences with
letter writer (e.g., courses taken, class
project topics, etc.)
- Anything you want included in the letter
Waive your rights. Many letters
of recommendation allow you to chose whether you waive or retain
your rights to see the letter. You should always waive your rights.
The readers of the letter will give the letter more weight. Many
letter writers won't write a non-confidential letter. If you're
nervous that the letter writer won't write you a good letter of
recommendation, then ask someone else!
Follow up. The absent minded
professor is more than just a cliche. Your professor may forget
to write your letter. Don't be afraid to check in periodically
with your professor to see if the recommendation has been sent.
Just be careful not to be a nag.
Thank your professor! Write a
thank-you note to your letter writer!
Did you get it? Let your professor
know if you get the job, the intership or the spot in graduate
school. They want to know!