If I have agreed to serve as a reference for job, internship, or fellowship applications, please send me, as soon as possible, a couple of paragraphs in which you:
- describe the job, internship, or fellowship for which you're applying,
- explain why you think you're a good fit for this position, and
- articulate how the work you've done in my class and/or as a Writing Mentor has prepared you for or is relevant to the work you'd be doing in this position.
Letters of Recommendation
Writing a persuasive recommendation letter takes time. Especially during busy times of the academic year, it's important to ask for letters well in advance — ideally at least four weeks before the due date. If you give me less time, or if you don't give me the written information outlined below, I may still be able to write a letter, but it is likely to be a more generic letter.
If I have agreed to write a letter of recommendation for you, I will need the following materials well before the letter deadline:
- a copy of your résumé (or equivalent list of accomplishments and awards);
- a copy of the latest draft of your personal statement or letter of intent, or, if neither of those is required for the position for which you're applying, a brief paragraph or two explaining what you're applying for and why;
- for graduate school applications: a list of schools and due dates.
I will also need your written responses to these prompts:
- Tell me about the class(es) you've taken with me. What did you learn, and how does what you learned relate to the program or position for which I'm recommending you? How have you applied what you learned in our class(es) in other courses or contexts?
- Remind me of particular contributions to class discussion, paper-writing breakthroughs, journal entries, or outside-of-class conversations we've had that you think show something important about you or your development as a writer and thinker. If possible, give me a copy (paper or electronic) of your best work for the class(es) you've taken with me—whether a formal paper, a journal entry, or something else—so that I can refer to it in my recommendation.
- If you've worked as a Writing Mentor, tell me what you've learned from that work and reflect on its relevance to the program or position to which you're applying. Tell me a story about your experience: a memorable session, something a writer or professor said that stuck with you, or an incident that influenced you as a writer or student or (future) teacher.
- Tell me what other aspects of yourself as a student, a writer, a tutor, or a person you think I'm in a good position to discuss.
- Tell me how this recommendation letter fits in with the other recommendations you've asked for. Do you want me to emphasize your writing? your research? your participation in discussion? your work as a writing consultant? your development over time? your work with me on projects outside of class? some combination of these things? (I will shed light on as many aspects of you and your work as I can, but think about what you most want me to discuss.)
Your responses will help me write a specific and persuasive recommendation. I keep your answers on file for future reference, so if you need me to write another letter in the future we can simply update and add to this information as needed.