The letter of recommendation is weighed heavily in the evaluation and review process. It gives reviewers insight into the applicant that goes beyond grades or rankings. It not only corroborates the content of the submitted application materials, but provides important testimony regarding the student’s character, diligence, dedication, and academic and leadership potential. Here are some ways you can assist your teacher, professor or instructor with writing a good recommendation.
- Choose someone who is familiar with you and your work. Letters from professors or instructors are preferred over teaching assistants. It is recommended that you get to know two professors during your undergraduate career. Stay after class to ask questions. Attend office hours to ask questions about course material or advice regarding classes or graduate and career options. Ask the professor to tell you “her/his story” or how he/she journeyed to her/his current position. This will enable you to get great advice on academic and career matters, as well as end up with some great letters of recommendation for employment reasons or graduate and professional school applications.
- Contact the professor or instructor at least three weeks ahead of time. Ask the question, “Can you write me a strong letter of reference for …?” Please choose a professor or instructor who can positively answer this question.
- Make sure you give the professor (instructor) a copy of your resume and student record. If you have information regarding the application process and what you are applying for please pass it on. This will allow the professor (instructor) to write a tailored letter. Visit the professor (instructor) during her/his office hours and have a conversation about your qualifications.
- Give the professor (instructor) a summary of the accomplishments you would like her/him to highlight in the letter. This may sound bold, but can be enormously helpful to a busy academic who writes hundreds of letters a year.
- You may want to give the professor an example of your marked and graded work such as a research paper, writing sample, or piece from your portfolio.
- Provide the professor (instructor) with your up-to-date contact information. Include a note stating when the letter is due and where it should be sent. (The Letters and Science process is automated.)
- Let your recommender know the outcome of the process for which he/she wrote the letter. Send a thank you note as a common courtesy. This makes a positive impression on your professor.