Asking me for a letter of recommendation
Students often need to get letters of reference from faculty for jobs, applications, and the like. In general, you should ask for references from faculty with whom you did well or with whom you had a particularly strong working relationship. Here are some guidelines if you would like to ask me for a reference.
What I will write
As a rule, my letter of reference will reflect the value the University of Lethbridge assigns to your average letter grade in my classes: if you are an A student, my letter will discuss how excellent you were; if you were a B student, it will discuss how good you were; if you were a C student I will discuss how satisfactory your work was. Normally you shouldn’t ask me for a reference if I have to say that you were a poor student or failing (i.e. a D or F student). However, I do write letters (and often good letters) for students who have failed or had to withdraw from my classes for reasons of disability, family emergency, illness, and the like. In such cases, the tenor of my letter depends on how closely we have worked together, the quality of the work you were able to complete, and similar aspects of your performance.
If I agree to write a letter for you, then I will then try to do the best job I can within the above parameters to concentrate on the positive aspects of your work for me: what was most interesting, best done, most original. If there is some reason why I can’t do this or why I feel I must mention something that is significantly negative about you, I will let you know (and probably refuse to write the reference).
What I need
You can help me write the best possible reference for you by supplying me with the following:
- A list of courses you have taken from me with grades.
- A selection of copies of marked essays and projects I have returned to you, particularly with the comments attached (supplying the comments allows me to comment in detail about your work, something committees value).
- A note describing any particular highlights of your work with me—particular praise I gave you, exceptionally good test grades, extra work I asked you to do for me, etc. This is particularly helpful for aspects of your performance that do not appear on the transcript.
- A copy of a current CV or resume.
- A copy of your letter of application or personal statement (optional)—this lets me adjust my comments so they are helpful to the type of programme to which you are applying.
- A reminder if I have written a letter for you in the past (and if so, when and to whom).
- Clear instructions on when, and to whom the letter should be sent.
- Send me the name and address in an email in a form that lets me cut and paste it directly onto a label: putting the name and address in the body of the email is more convenient to me than sending it to me as an attached word-processor file.
- Unless you are required to use a specific envelope, don’t worry about supplying me with envelopes or postage: I can supply that myself more easily and it is one less thing for me to lose.
I will email you when I have mailed the letter. If you don’t hear from me a week or so before the deadline you gave me, please feel free to remind me.
Posted: Tuesday November 25, 2008. 15:57.
Last modified: Friday December 26, 2008. 18:25.