Letters of Recommendation
Who should write a letter of recommendation?
- Have worked with you closely (e.g., a research supervisor).
- Have relevant expertise (e.g., professors in the case of academic applications).
- Have known you long enough to write with authority (e.g., academic advisor).
- Are senior and well known (e.g., a departmental chair).
- Have a positive opinion of you and your abilities.
- Have a warm and supportive personal style.
How should you approach a potential recommender?
- Approach 3-4 potential recommenders for advising early in your college career.
- Get to know them and let them get to know you. Discuss your larger interests and goals. Ask for their advice about potential projects, reading, courses of study, graduate programs. . . .
- Ask your potential recommenders if they feel they know you well enough to write a strong letter of recommendation.
- Give your recommender a minimum of three or four weeks to complete the recommendation.
- Schedule an appointment with your recommenders to discuss the program; the requirements; your strengths, achievements, and qualifications; and suggest what each recommender might emphasize.
What information should you provide your recommender?
- An unofficial copy of your academic transcript.
- Your resume.
- Copy of your personal statement.
- Any guidelines or forms the graduate school provides for the recommender.
- Deadline by which the letter is due.
- A pre-addressed and stamped envelope for each letter.
- Be sure to write your recommender a thank you note!