Letters of Recommendation and Graduate School Applications
Members of the Student Affairs staff are happy to assist students and alumni who need letters of reference or recommendation for other institutions, scholarship applications, graduate school, study abroad, employment, or other audiences.
Requesting a Recommendation
It is very important that you ask permission to list someone as a reference on your resume and to keep the reference up-to-date on the positions or opportunities you apply for throughout your process. It is most ideal to set up a meeting or a phone call to discuss your request for a recommendation with the staff member who you want to serve as a reference or to write a letter of recommendation. You can then clarify what you are hoping could be highlighted in the recommendation. This would ensure that the recommender would describe why you are the right person for that award, scholarship, job, or program.
While many may be familiar with your involvement on campus, the recommender may not know as much as you think about your major, areas of academic interest, extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, volunteer work, summer jobs or other activities. Please supply as much information to the recommender as possible. Such specifics allow concrete examples to be provided in the letter. You should also provide any essays or "statements of purpose" associated with your application. Unofficial transcripts, resumes and completed application forms are useful.
Most requests for letters from students occur simultaneously so it is important that you allow for sufficient lead-time for completion. As a general rule, two weeks is usually sufficient, three weeks would be best.
How to Send
Please make it clear what you wish to be done with the letter once finished. If it is to be mailed, it will be sent in an Office of Student Affairs letterhead envelope and the department will pay the postage. If it is to be returned to you, it will be sealed in a letterhead envelope and you will be notified for pick up.
Graduate School Applications
Chances are that you are applying to a number of graduate schools. Most, but not all, of these have a specific form they wish completed. Some schools and programs request a form be completed from the Dean of Students to indicate that you are in good standing with the college. Some want this form or a letter of recommendation to be sent directly to them while others want you to send it along with your application, and a growing number require the letter or form to be submitted on-line.
Similar to what was outlined above, please provide as much information as possible about the graduate program you are seeking. Please follow the suggestions below when providing the needed information. It is particularly important that you ask the recommender to write this letter or complete the needed forms well in advance of your first deadline.
For each school to which you are applying, please provide:
- Any hard copies of forms that need to be filled out and sent in.
- Links to any on-line forms that need to be completed
- Clear instructions on the deadline and if the materials are to be sent directly or returned to you.
The form will be completed with an attached copy of the letter and either mailed in a letterhead envelope or you will be notified of pick up.