Letters of Recommendations For admission to Graduate School By: Jocelyn VanNederynen.
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Letters of Recommendations For admission to Graduate School By: Jocelyn VanNederynen
How important are letters of Recommendation? They are required for almost every graduate school application and are a very important part of the application process. Grades and test scores factor most heavily; however, your letters of recommendation could be the deciding factor in the admission process. Strong letters of recommendations can strengthen your application and if there are deficiencies in your application, they can help to out weight them.
How many letters of Recommendation do I need? Each institution you apply too will let you know how many letters are required. Generally most institutions will ask for 3 letters. It is recommended that you send only the amount of letters requested. Admission committees do not have the time to read extra letters.
Whom should I ask for a recommendation? Someone who knows you well. Someone with title of “Professor.” Someone who is a professor at the school granting you a BA degree. Someone who has earned the degree which you are seeking in your graduate work. Someone with an advanced degree who has supervised you in a job or internship aligned with the graduate program you are pursuing. Someone who has academically evaluated you in an upper-division class. Letters from family friends, political figures, and the like usually are discouraged and may be detrimental to your acceptance.
Best Letter Writers: Those that know you well and can provide an evaluation of your ability to perform and succeed at the graduate level. If you are planning to attend grad school, take every opportunity to get to know your professors: –Go to office hours. –Ask questions in class. –Seek advice about your career. –Do independent research or study with a professor whose recommendation you may want.
How do I approach potential letter writers? Make a list of professors or supervisors who will be your advocates. Set up an appointment to discuss your request in person. DO NOT make the request through email. Be prepared to discuss your interest and reasons for attending graduate school. Letters are strictly on a voluntary basis; a faculty member may decline to write them. The best approach is to ask potential letter writers if they are willing to write you a strong letter. If the answer is no, ask someone else.
When should I approach letter writers? Faculty is especially busy during the months of November and December. Be considerate of your letter writers’ time and workload, and approach them at least 2 months in advance of your request. A good time to approach is early fall of your senior year if you plan to attend immediately. Ask during the school year; sometimes professors are hard to find in the summer. If you plan to take time off ask for a letter of recommendation before you leave. Be sure to place it in a safe place. When ready to apply to graduate school, contact professor again, and ask them to update your letters.
What information do my letter writers need to write good letters? You can help your letter writers by giving each of them a portfolio that includes: –Info on how to get in touch with you. –What you would like emphasized in each letter. –List of schools you are applying to and due dates. –Any other info that is relevant. –Open and close your note with thanks and acknowledgement. Recommendation Forms: –Applicant information typed in. –Recommender’s name, title, contact info (telephone, fax, address, ect.) typed in.
Recommendation Forms (cont.): Your unofficial transcripts (note courses you took with them). A draft of your statement of purpose. A copy of your best work in the course (with instructor comments on it), lab evaluations, projects, publications etc. Your Resume. Stamped and addressed envelopes to send letters and forms directly to the Career Center Letter Service or schools of your choice.
Do graduate schools care if letters are confidential or not? Graduate schools in general prefer confidential letters. Admissions officially say that is displays more confidence on the part of the applicant if letters are confidential. “Confidential”- meaning you, the applicant cannot see the letter. As of August 1, 2001, the Letter Service is required to indicated on the letter if it is confidential or non-confidential.
Why should I use the Letter Service at the Career Center? If you are applying to more than three schools, or you think you want your letters held for other opportunities in the future, you should plan to use the Letter Service. Your letter writers will write one letter and fill out one form, rather than filling out a different form for every school and fellowship program.
References: Career Center- Letters of Recommendation for Graduate school. http://career.berkeley.edu/Grad/Grad Letter.stm Pages 1-4. http://career.berkeley.edu/Grad/Grad Letter.stm Recommendation Form [sample] http://www.pcu.edu/departments/Behaviorals_Science/handbook/ recommendation_form.htm http://www.pcu.edu/departments/Behaviorals_Science/handbook/ recommendation_form.htm Pages 1-3.