Letters of Recommendation Tips
For Both The Applicant and The Recommender
surprised if you request a letter of recommendation and the
person suggests you write a letter they can edit and sign.
This is very common due to the simple fact many people are
too busy and don't have time to write the letter cut
“recommendation” themselves. This can be an extreme
advantage to you, since you can now write exactly what you
want the admissions committees to hear. Below are some tips
to strengthen a letter of recommendation. They are divided
up into two sections; the first gives some ideas for a
person writing a letter for you, the second offers you tips
if writing one for yourself:
that this person is doing you a great favor, and do not
approach them with unrealistic demands or deadlines. Always
give the person plenty of time to write the letter.
If you are
writing it yourself, consider all of the writing suggestions
offered below, especially looking over your personal essays
and making sure that there are no conflicts or needless
too hard or too easy on yourself, put yourself in the
shoes of the person supposedly “writing” the letter and be
as objective as possible.
writing for yourself, use specific dates and experiences so
that the person finally signing the letter does not need to
contact you again to look anything up in their editing
process. If they are writing the letter, make sure you
supply them with any helpful information when giving them
the recommendation request and form(s).
you may be writing the letter, still give them ample time to
review and personalize the letter. This means more than one
week! Also, include a list of specific areas that you want
them to review when you give them a draft of the letter.
a few positive qualities observed
in the applicant.
applicant to supply additional information i.e. resume,
graduate goals, career goals; this will help see where they
are going and you can gear your letter to complement that.
discussing those qualities, support your statements with
specific instances in which they demonstrated those
attributes. Be as concrete and detailed as possible.
copy of the applicant's personal statement or application
essays so that your letter of recommendation will not
conflict with or duplicate the rest of the application.
your qualifications for comparing the applicant to other
quantify the student's strengths or rank them with other
applicants that you have observed.
some mild criticism, generally pairing it with a mentioned
applicant's potential in his or her chosen field.
generalities and platitudes.
well you know the applicant.—move this to the beginning of
the list, it seems that such a general idea would go first
in a letter.
Do you feel like you have been out of school too
long and your professors will not remember you?
It has been a common problem
for working professionals to obtain letters of recommendations
from professors and other staff affiliated with their
universities because they have been out of school so long and
lost contact with those individuals. It is okay to send a
request to a professor who may not remember you, it is advised
to include in the email your resume as well as any information
that can be used to help them while writing the letter. As
mentioned above, your chances are the recommender will suggest
you write the letter and they can fine tune it. Professors
have thousands of students over their life time and will
probably remember very few, don't feel intimated to still
request letters from them.