Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

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In this section you will learn how to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Asking for Letter of Recommendation

by - The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service

Writing a letter of recommendation requires considerable effort. Don't just blurt out a request to a supervisor or instructor you see walking down the hallway. Choose your letter writers carefully, and plan out your timing and approach. Most importantly, don't procrastinate.


When deciding on whom to ask for a letter of recommendation, don't simply think of those classes or projects in which you have done well: think of those instructors or supervisors who are most familiar with your work and achievements. Admissions readers look for evidence of the letter writer's familiarity with your work. Without this type of evidence, the letter lacks credibility and force.

College and Graduate School Applicants:

If you are applying to an academic program, it's preferable to have letters of recommendation from upper-level course instructors. Remember that, although letters from senior professors are often more impressive than ones penned by teaching assistants, most senior faculty members receive large numbers of recommendation requests. Depending on the size of your college, senior professors sometimes must teach a wide variety of courses. As a result, they seldom come into close contact with undergraduates. While you might be tempted to request a letter from a tenured academic superstar, refrain from doing so unless you know the recommendation will be strong. An impressive signature will not compensate for a lukewarm letter; in that case, it's much better to have a stellar letter from a junior faculty member of TA who knows you well and can comment on your specific abilities and achievements. Keep in mind that sometimes a professor will be willing to co-sign a letter written by a TA, or will simply adapt and then sign a letter written by a TA.


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