Hello current or former student!
If you’d like me to write a letter of recommendation for you to apply to graduate school, please keep in mind that I will write it only if the following three conditions apply:
- You have been my student and I have things to say about you beyond your grades in my class
- The deadline for the letter submission is in at least three weeks from your request
- You waive your right to review the recommendation
Regarding condition 1
Having been registered in one of my classes is not enough for me to write a strong recommendation. You and I must have established a more meaningful student-professor relation in or beyond the classroom. Did you write a project or made a presentation that was particularly outstanding? Did you talk to me during office hours regarding your post-graduation plans? Were you involved in one of my research groups or projects? If so, I will be more than happy to write a letter for you!
Regarding conditions 2 and 3
In relation to condition 2 above, having enough time to craft a letter is important so I can gather information from you and draft/edit/proof-read a strong letter. As for condition 3, you must know that letters of recommendation may not be as heavily taken into account by selection committees if they know applicants have access to them; also, evaluations comparing students must be kept confidential.
What you should do
If conditions 1, 2 and 3 are met, please send me an email with your request and please wait for my confirmation before you include my name in the application system.
Once we have agreed that I will write a recommendation letter for you , it is necessary that you provide me with the following info before you include my name in the application system:
- The addressee’s name, title/position/rank, department/university affiliation, physical address of the institution
- Your CV/resume
- The personal statement you are submitting with your application
- A one-page document containing bullet points with the following info:
- The context within which I met you, how long I’ve known you for (e.g. courses, workshops, committees, etc.)
- What/how you did in my class (e.g. grade in class, specific project you worked on, noteworthy assignments or presentations, etc.). Remind me if I particularly liked a homework, project or presentation you did.
- What you would like me to highlight (e.g. your character, strengths, suitability for the program, etc.). Remind me of how I have knowledge of your abilities beyond the class (e.g. we talked during office hours, we solved an issue together in a committee, etc.).
For point (4), be as throughout as possible. Even if you are sure I already know some things, it is always better to have that information consolidated in one document than on my very messy head.
Once we have agreed that I will write a recommendation letter for you and once you have included my name in the application system, I will be glad to be reminded every week that I need to submit it. Send me as many reminders as you think are needed.