Psychology Home >> Marie Helweg-Larsen
Information for students seeking letters of recommendation
I want to be able to write the strongest, most informed letter of recommendation possible. I therefore need students seeking letters of all kinds (including letters for graduate school, study abroad programs, residence life, jobs, internships, honor societies, etc.) to prepare a Recommendation Request Form that includes pertinent information about your background, grades, honors, and interests. You should also consult this webpage regarding advice on letters of recommendation: Advice from the Social Psychology network.
You should provide me with a neat and organized package containing all the information needed. This makes a good impression and makes the job easier for me in writing the letter. Please provide me with ONE organized package instead of supplying forms, envelopes, emails, and pieces of paper on many separate occasions. Make sure you sign the form(s) if required.
It is easier for me to do letters online but I'm happy to complete letters either by snail-mail or online. Make sure you give me the correct deadlines. Many schools want you to include the letter with your application so you need to calculate additional days for you to receive the letter. Also, many schools only allow online letters after they have received your application (which for many students makes the snail-mail letter of recommendation more feasible than the online option).
Writing good letters of recommendation takes time. Please be sure to give me at least 2 weeks advance notice before the recommendation is due. Finally, waive your rights to read the letter or form. Recipients place more credence on letters which are not read by students. If you are in doubt about the kind of recommendation the referee will write, ask.
Help writing a strong personal statement
The personal statement is really a letter of intent or statement of purpose. Be careful to get the tone right and supply only information that will improve your chances of getting into graduate school. The letter of intent needs to be perfectly crafted and written, and you will need to write many drafts before it is acceptable.
See here for excellent advice:
Preparing a Personal Statement
PSU Writing Personal Statements
Also based on a study of professors admitting students into graduate school in psychology (Appleby and Appleby, 2006) here is a list of what NOT to write in your personal statement: Kiss of Death
General FAQs about getting into graduate school from the Dickinson College Department of Psychology. Grad School FAQ