Letters of Recommendation

A well-written recommendation can often be a deciding factor, especially if you have any weak spots in your qualifications. Recommendations may be submitted online or in paper form. When you are deciding, consider individuals who know you well and can vouch for your academic, professional, and/or research abilities. Remember that you are asking the recommender for the favor of their time and effort, so treat them with care and consideration.

  • Your recommenders are busy. Start asking for recommendations well before your deadline. This typically means you need to be lining up recommenders in the early fall if you plan to attend graduate school in the fall of the next year. 
  • Schedule an appointment with each potential recommender to talk about how your chosen program aligns with your career goals and why you think you are a good candidate. This just may spark their memory about some positive things they can write about you.
  • Give them the list of schools you are applying to, instructions for sending the letter, the recommendation form (if required), the deadline, your contact information, and any pertinent information that will help them write an appropriate letter. Include your personal statement and résumé to help jog their memories.
  • If you notice that a person you asked for a recommendation seems hesitant, move on to an alternate. You do not want to run the risk of submitting a poor recommendation.