Please read these guidelines before asking me for a letter of recommendation for graduate school, law school, or employment. Following these guidelines will help me to write a stronger and more accurate letter on your behalf.
The first thing to consider is if I am in a position to write a letter that describes and evaluates your accomplishments in a way that will help you achieve your objectives. I can write stronger letters for students that have done good work in my classes. It is especially important that you performed well on exams, wrote papers to which I assigned a high grade, and participated actively and intelligently in class discussions. It is also helpful, but certainly not necessary, to have taken more than one class with me, as this gives me more opportunities to evaluate your performance. If your written work or classroom participation was less than perfect, the letter I write will have to reflect this. Your interests may be better served by having another faculty member write on your behalf.
I enjoy discussing career and graduate school opportunities with students. If you are interested in a particular career or are considering attending graduate school, feel free to make an appointment to see me. You can email me to make an appointment. I happy to answer questions you might have. It is often useful to do this well in advance of when you have to make decisions about jobs or graduate school applications.
When you do ask me to prepare a letter, please provide me with all of the following materials at least two weeks before you want me to mail the letters (it is best if you email this to me):
1. A cover sheet with your name, telephone number, and email address. The cover sheet should also list the schools or positions to which you want me to send the letter, the addresses to which I should send the letters, and the deadlines by which you want me to have mailed the letters.
2. Copies of any written work you prepared for my classes, such as exams or papers. This is very important, as it allows me to comment in detail on your research and writing abilities.
3. A resume or a list of special skills (such as foreign language or data analysis skills) and experiences (such as work or study abroad) that I might want to discuss in your letter.
4. Most law and graduate schools require you to submit a personal statement that outlines why you want to attend graduate school, your long-term career goals, and why you are particularly qualified in pursuing graduate study. If you have already prepared a draft of your statement, give me a copy. If you have not, please include a note outlining your responses to these issues. This is very useful to me in preparing a strong letter.
5. Details of any websites or forms I need for completing your letter. Note that many schools give you the option to waive viewing your letter later. I advise students to waive the right to view the letter I write.