How to ask a Professor for a Recommendation Letter

Categories: College Life

For college students entering their senior year this fall, knowing how and when to request recommendation letters from professors is important. You got questions? We got answers!

Why would I need a recommendation letter from a professor?

If you decide to apply to any graduate school or program, in most cases you will need a recommendation letter to send with your application. Certain companies may also request one during or before a job interview.

How do I pick the professor?

Think about professors who know you well – preferably one who knows you by your first name – and have given you decent grades in their courses. Maybe you’ve taken more than one course from them. A professor who you have met with outside of class and has consistently given you Bs or above is a good choice.

How do I ask the professor?

Ask either in person or via email. When sending an email, be professional and clear about what you need from them. Explain why you need the letter and why you chose them to write it. If he or she doesn’t reply right away, give them some time and check back a week or so later. When asking a professor in person, be ready to answer questions about your graduate school plans and specific due dates.

When do I ask the professor?

Ask your professor 3-6 weeks before the letter is due. The more time you allow them to write it, the more thought and care they can put into you!

What do I do when they agree to write my recommendation letter?

Thank them! Then give your professor a list of all of the programs you are applying to with the deadline for each. Your professor may need to tweak their letters depending on where they are sent if programs vary. If your grad school or future employer asks that the teacher send the letter directly, provide an addressed and stamped envelope. The key here is to give your professor the least amount of work to do.

What do I do after they’ve written the letter?

Follow up to make sure they’ve completed it and it has been sent. You can do this in person or via email. You can also check in with the graduate admissions office to see if they received it.

Last but not least: THANK YOUR PROFESSOR! They’ve done you a huge service and put a lot of effort into this recommendation letter.

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Original Post Date: June 22nd, 2012

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