Letters of recommendation can be a tricky business. They are needed to supplement your graduate application in order for the college to get to know you better. You want to ensure that your professors will present you in an appealing way, but it’s even harder to decide who to ask, or how to ask. Professors receive requests like these all the time, but what if they take on too much and have no time left for you? Who do you ask next? I’ve got a few tips that will help ensure a glowing recommendation.
1.) Choose someone who knows you – If you sat through a class, not participating, you probably shouldn’t ask that professor. Choose someone you worked with closely and knows your work ethic, drive, and class performance. Do not choose a family member or family friend. You want to make sure that the college reading your letter will get an understanding of how you benefit the classroom. The letter will be more personal if you have a connection with said professor or mentor. You can always get a letter from an internship adviser or field placement manager.
2.) Give adequate time – Professors have a lot on their plates. They have jobs to do and projects to complete. they are doing you a favor so be sure to give them an adequate amount of time to prepare and complete the recommendation. I would say at least a month in advance.
3.) Give them what they need – Make sure you give the recommender everything they need. Envelopes that are pre-stamped and pre-addressed, list of schools you’re applying to, and a list of achievements. The recommender may know who you are inside the classroom or on the job, but the additional information will give them insight to who you are as a whole. Give them your statement of purpose so they understand your drive and commitment to pursuing your prospective field. Also include your contact information. And last but not least, don’t forget the Thank You card. Maybe a small gift if you’re feeling generous.
4.) Ask nicely - Everyone loves a compliment. When asking for a letter of recommendation, tell that person why you’re choosing them. Educators teach for a reason and there’s nothing better than knowing your students appreciate you.