How to Request a Letter of Recommendation or Evaluation

  • Our most important tip – Do not wait until the last minute to request a letter of recommendation/evaluation!  It is best to request your letter at least one month before you need it.  Strong letters take a great deal of time to write.
     
  • Keep in mind that professors, instructors, physicians, supervisors, and advisors often write dozens of letters per year.  Make their job easier by following these guidelines:
    • If at all possible, request your letter in person.  Arrange an appointment with the potential letter writer, explaining that you want to discuss your plans to apply to professional school/graduate school/an internship/a scholarship/a special program/etc.
    • Don’t ask, “Can you write me a letter?”  Instead ask, “Do you feel that you would be able to write a strong letter supporting my application to __________?”
    • Be prepared to discuss why you want to apply to your specific program/opportunity/schools, your aspirations, and why you think this person is a good candidate to write your letter.
    • If the instructor, advisor, or professor says no, just thank them and move on.  Try not to feel bad about it.  Their refusal to write you a letter will probably be better for you in the long run (if they don’t have sufficient time, information, or inclination to write your letter, they will not be able to write you a strong letter anyway).
    • Discuss a due date for the letter.  Keep in mind that it is common courtesy to give at least a month’s notice to your letter writer.  Remember that they write lots of letters, which takes time and effort.  After agreeing upon a date, don’t harass them.  You can visit their office or e-mail a “gentle reminder” a short time before the due date.
       
  • At the meeting, provide the letter writer with the following (consider organizing it into a packet, folder, or manila envelope):
    • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
    • An advising report or copy of your transcript
    • Information about the opportunity for which you are applying
    • A personal statement – or a description of what you are planning to discuss in your personal statement
    • A list of areas you would like the letter writer to address in the letter
    • A link to your Honors & Scholars e-Portfolio, if available
    • Address to which the letter should be sent, or if you will be using a letter service, information about the letter service you will be using (Interfolio, AMCAS, AACOMAS, LSAC’s CAS, etc.).  For instance, provide a link, ID numbers for schools (if necessary), e-mail addresses, etc.
    • If you want something mailed, provide the stamps and addressed envelopes.

Some information adopted from http://gradschool.about.com/od/askingforletters/a/askletter.htm

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