Student Letters 

For me to write an effective letter of recommendation I need the following:

1.    A one week  (7 calendar day) notice. Please do not ask me to write a letter on a notice shorter than one week. I will decline.

2.    A current resume along with a complete description of the program you are applying for.

3.    The date on which the recommendation is due, as well as the address - preferably an addressed envelope to which it must be sent.

4.    To know what happens to your application (I made the effort to write on your behalf, I deserve some feedback).

5.    A typed or handwritten note indicating that you waived your right to see the letter of recommendation. If you have concerns about this, you need to know that there are important benefits in maintaining the confidentiality of letters. Selection committees, for example, tend to view confidential letters as having greater credibility and assign them greater weight; also, some letter writers actually feel less inhibited in their praise of students in confidential letters. It is up to you to decide. Don’t worry, I will be up front with you and tell you how strong a letter I can honestly write. This will give you a chance to ask someone else if I cannot write a strong letter. If you do or do not waive your right, I will indicate this in the letter.

6.    A thank you note/card. I am probably the first adult you have asked for a letter, you really need to realize the huge importance in thanking the people who helped you along the way.


Reference: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University

o© Peter Judson 2018