Letters of Recommendation
A critical component to any application to graduate/professional school are the letters of recommendation from faculty members, supervisors, and other individuals who can comment on your interest, readiness, and focus for advanced study. Below are some general recommendations to consider as you think about requesting, collecting, and managing your letters of recommendation.
While there is not preferred method for requesting letters of recommendation, the Career Center does encourage students to carefully evaluate how they go about selecting writers (also referred to as 'referees'). Consider the following questions:
- How well do I know this person? Do they know me well enough to comment substantially about my abilities, interests, and readiness for graduate school? Asking someone with whom you are only marginally familiar is an unnecessary risk. Focus on those who know you best.
- Should I ask over the phone, in an email, or in person? Asking in person gives the opportunity to engage in further discussion on the spot, and also gauge their non-verbal reaction to the request. If they express hesitation, you may want to consider asking other individuals.
- When should you ask? We strongly encourage students to give their referees plenty of time to write their lettes (e.g., 4 to 6 weeks if multiple letters and/or forms must be completed).
- What should I give to my referees? Students are often surprised by how much they can "help themselves" by providing their referees with a copy of their personal statement, resume/C.V., and any other supporting documents that may be helpful. Students should also give their referees as much information as possible about the institutions and degree programs to which they are applying as well as any particular information about the letter of recommendation (e.g., required evaluation forms, word limits, names and addresses if letter must be sent from the department).
Collecting & Managing Letters of Recommendation - Interfolio, Inc.
If you are applying to multiple programs and institutions, the Career Center recommends that students strongly consider establishing an account with Interfolio, Inc.. Through this service, referrees can submit their letter of recommendation to your account for you to distribute how you wish (the referee chooses whether or not you can view the letter, they can choose to make it confidential). As an applicant, you decide which letters of recommendation are sent to each particular program/institution. Furthermore, if you decide to apply to an additional school after all your applications are sent it, you don't need to scurry around campus trying to get another letter from each referee to complete you application. You simply log-in to your Interfolio account and choose which letters to send to the school.