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Letter of Recommendation Workshop

Why these Letters Matter

Why You Should Start Thinking about them the Moment You Set Foot on Campus

Develop Relationships

Think through the Application Process First

What is the whole process and can you describe the process to your letter writer?

            Who should write letters for you?

            Which letter writers are appropriate for the variety of opportunities?

            What is involved with the recommendation? A letter? A form? Both?

Use the Application Materials to Help You Choose Letter Writers

            Who should write letters for the specific opportunity?

            What should the letters writers address?  Academics? Service?

            Is the letter writer a good fit for you and for the situation to which you apply?

Choose People Who Know You Well, Seek a Mix of Letter Writers, and Identify Their Roles for Them

            Think about maintaining a roster of letter writers. 

            Think about which angles they each will cover.

Give Them Time

            Two weeks is a minimum; one month is better.

Ask in Person

Ideally, you should ask for letters in person. 

Have your elevator pitch ready: What opportunity and your motivations?

If that is not possible, then offer to meet with the letter writer to discuss the opportunity and your fitness for it.

Help Them to Know You Better

Provide letter writer with resume or curriculum vitae.

Provide letter writer with other materials like:

  • Personal statement (draft is okay),
    • Proposals (draft is okay),
    • Other application materials,
    • Copies of transcript,
    • Some details from activities listed above might be helpful, especially if activity, award, work is related to opportunity and letter writer is in a unique position to provide perspective.

Respect a “No”

            This includes reading between the lines, and understanding hesitancy and a polite decline.

Waive Your Access Rights and Invite the Letter Writer to Discuss Your Grades

            Letters where access is waived are taken more seriously.

Provide the Letter Writer with a Deadline and a Stamped Addressed Envelope

Or the complete information with an email address or the link where the letter may be submitted.

Follow Up with Letter Writer

Send a thank you email to your writers and confirm details (especially if several letters are involved).


Let your letter writers know the outcome—good or bad—of the opportunity and thank them again. 

Last updated: 10/27/2021