Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Filed in From the Staff by on September 30, 2016

Applying to graduate school? IQP or MQP? Looking for a full time job? Letters of recommendation can be an important component of the application process! Professors, administrators, club supervisors, coaches, project advisors, academic advisors, and past job supervisors may all be great people to request a letter from. Below are 6 important tips to know before inquiring about a letter of recommendation:

  1. When thinking about potential people to ask for a letter of recommendation, ask yourself: Does the person know me well enough to write a meaningful letter? Would the comments they likely write benefit me in my application?
  2. Once you’ve settled on a candidate, make an appointment to meet with them in person. This is the most personable approach, and if it is a person you do not see a lot, it allows them to put a face with a name. Try to avoid asking someone after class, in passing, or through email.
  3. During the meeting, explain to your potential writer your goals and why you have selected them as a potential reference. Prepare information about the position, project, or school you are applying for. Ask the candidate whether they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation, and be respectful if they decline.
  4. If they have agreed, provide your recommender with copies of your transcript, a resume, related coursework, personal statement, and any other materials that will assist them during the writing process. Make sure to bring any official recommendation forms if applicable, along with a stamped and addressed envelope for convenience. Ask them if they need any additional materials from you.
  5. Pay attention to details! Make sure you give your recommender an appropriate amount of time to complete the letter, and provide clear instructions in regards to deadlines and submission.
  6. Make sure to thank your letter writer properly, and update them throughout the application process. Even if you are not selected, still make sure to extend your appreciation.

Good luck! As always, let the CDC know if you need any assistance. Drop-in hours run Monday-Friday from 10AM-4PM.

This advice has been adapted from:

Letters of Recommendation, WPI Fellowships and Scholarships.

Letters of Recommendation and References, St. Olaf College Piper Center.

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