The following is a guide only – use your own best judgment and the directions of the organization to which you are applying.
Ask for letters of recommendation as far in advance as possible. If someone you ask is not enthusiastic about doing this, they may not be able to provide the strongest recommendation so work on finding someone else. Offer to meet with potential recommenders about your plans, but do not require this of them.
Provide an update and warning 1 month in advance of the letters’ due dates. Then provide a reminder 1 week in advance. Remember, this is more of a priority for you that the recommenders, so make sure you are on top of making sure these get in.
In order to write a letter of recommendation, recommenders will need the following for each one you wish them to write:
- Your name, current year/position, your major.
- What classes/other contacts you have had with the recommender and when.
- What you are applying for (including the specific name of the position or award).
- The name of the organization to which you are applying.
- The due date and how it is to be delivered (uploaded to a website, hardcopy by mail with a postmark by the due date or received by the due date, picked up by you to be included with your packet, or elsewise).
- What needs to be supplied by the recommender (e.g. a letter, a form filled out in hard copy, an online form and letter, an email, or something else)
- The name of the person or committee to whom the letter should be addressed and the mailing address for formal letters (even if the letters are to be sent electronically).
- Provide and sign as indicated any forms that must accompany the recommendation, whether online or in hardcopy.
- A stamped, addressed envelope if the recommendation is to be mailed.
- What it is you are hoping the recommender will address or say about you in the letter.
- Any information about the position or organization which you think may be useful and a website if they have one.
- Any papers with the recommenders comments on them or other course material that they might use to add specificity to their letters.
- A copy of your personal statement or other description you are sending with your application.
Be sure to follow up and thank the recommenders for writing the letter and let them know how it turned out.