Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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Asking me for a letter of recommendation

Posted: Nov 25, 2008 15:11;
Last Modified: Dec 26, 2008 18:12


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:


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.





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