To Students Requesting Letters of Recommendation:

Letters of recommendation comprise the most important component of your application file for employment, admission to graduate schools, financial aid, permanent residency, and the like.  It therefore makes good sense to prepare your case carefully and enable your letter-writers to make their best possible presentation of your qualities.

Here’s a checklist to help.  When you ask a faculty member for a letter, the turn around time will be minimized, and the letter will be its strongest, if you can provide the following.

  1. 1.Your resumé (no length limits to this one, better to be complete and specific)

  2. 2.Personal statement (for grad school), or original description of the position or the award for which you are applying

  3. 3.Concise summary of why you are qualified for admission, the position, or the award

  4. a.If you have a special interest, talent, or experience, explain it.

  5. b.If your grades do not reflect your candidacy, explain why.

  6. c.If participation in an extracurricular activity is relevant, describe it.

  7. 4.Details regarding your relationship with the letter-writer

  8. a.If you took classes from the faculty member, list each class, semester, grade, and comment on your participation in class or office hours.

  9. b.If the faculty member served as your advisor, research supervisor, or in any other capacity, describe your interactions.

  10. 5.Forms on which letters are to be written, filled out completely and neatly with your name, social security number, and confidentiality agreement, as required, stamped (except for those that can be sent by campus mail), addressed envelopes, OR, if electronic format is required, hyperlinks and ID codes needed to enter the appropriate sites

Complete preparation speaks highly of you, too, and your recommendation letter will likely contain some comment on your meticulous, courteous, and conscientious style of making this important request if you can follow through on the above recommendations.

R. Gronsky

Professor Emeritus, MSE