Letters of Recommendation

Would you like a letter of recommendation?

Almost surely, no problem. I would be happy to write you a letter. Help me, help you. The more information you can provide for me, the better my letter will be. Also, send the same information about your situation to your other letter writers. It will make their letters better, too. You don’t need to send me long answers to every single question. However, the more you can expand on (particularly with specifics I can use in a letter), the better.

Who sends the letter to the organization?

Except in rare situations, I should be the one submitting the letter directly to the organization.

  • The ideal situation is for you to provide me a link (email address, web form, email from the organization, etc.) where I can post / submit the letter.
  • If the organization has asked you to submit the letter, please reach out to the organization asking whether they will make an exception to their policy so as to recieve the letter directly from me. When you submit the rest of the materials below, please include the response you’ve gotten from the organization about their policy on recieving a letter directly from me (instead of from you).

Send to me:

If I have agreed to write a recommendation for you, please provide me with as much of the following as possible:

  • a unofficial copy of your transcript,
  • a copy of your personal statement (if applicable), and
  • any necessary forms

Furthermore, at least two weeks before the first letter is due, e-mail me your answers to the following questions (the more details the better):

  • What are your name, pronouns, year, and major?
  • For what are you applying? (scholarship, graduate school, etc.)
  • List the programs to which you are applying, together with due dates.
  • How long have I known you (years/months), and what is my relationship(s) to you (instructor, advisor, etc.)? Have you graded or mentored for me? If so, for what class(es) and when?
  • For what class(es) have I had you, what final grade(s) did you earn, and how did you distinguish yourself in my class(es)?
  • Did you do a project in my class? What was it? Did it have a “new” component? What did you do for the “new” component? What did you learn from doing the project?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What are some of your academic accomplishments?
  • What are some of your nonacademic accomplishments?
  • What makes me particularly qualified to write a letter for you?
  • What makes you particularly qualified for this position/honor/award?
  • What are your long term goals and will this position/honor/award help? If so, how?
  • Additional comments (REU’s, summer research, interesting jobs, hobbies, etc.)?

Please send me e-mail reminder(s) as deadlines approach, and feel free to chat with me about other ways you can make the letter writing process go as smoothly as possible for you and your letter writers. Good luck!

Thanks to Mike Orrison at HMC for the above ideas.

See Mine Dogucu’s blog post which includes extensive tips for both students and instructors on getting to excellent recommendation letters.