If you’re seeking a letter of recommendation, please note the following (text borrowed from guidelines generously shared by Margaret Price at Spelman College):
I’m happy to write letters of recommendation for you, so please don’t hesitate to ask. However, I also want to offer some guidelines to make the process easier on both of us. Following these guidelines will result in a letter even more timely, detailed and eloquent.
1) Have all necessary forms and information to me at least three weeks before the letter is to be sent. If you are on a tighter deadline, you can still ask me for the letter, but I will have to look at my schedule and make an honest assessment of what’s possible.
2) Always ask for the letter in person and have all necessary forms and information in hand at the time of the meeting. This enables me to discuss the letter with you, ask questions that I might have, and gain a better understanding of how this scholarship / school / job fits with my knowledge of your work.
3) Arrive for your meeting with the following items in hand:
a) Any instructions sent by the organization to which you’re applying, including the date by which the letter must be postmarked / received.
b) The name of the person(s) to whom the letter should be addressed, and their complete address.
c) A filled-out and signed form, if one is provided by the organization. Note that you may need to check a box waiving, or not waiving, your right to read the letter. For grad-school applications, it’s customary to waive your right to read the letter; for other applications, it varies. Consult your advisor and other faculty members if you’re unsure.
d) The personal statement you’ve written for this opportunity. If this opportunity does not require a personal statement, include one from a different application.
e) Your current resume.
f) A cover note reminding me about the work we did together. Which classes were you in, and when? What were the topics of your papers? Did you do any special projects (oral presentations, etc.) that I might remember especially?
- Also in your cover note: Is there any information you want me to mention?
- Also in your cover note: a clear indication of how this letter should be transmitted. Should I mail it? Will you pick it up? Give me specific instructions.
Please remind me about a week before the letter is due to ensure I’m on track and will complete things on time.
Thanks for following this procedure, and best of luck to you!