*Since application deadlines are right around the corner I am re-posting this topic Good Luck with the Admissions Process
Over the past few weeks a number of students have written to me regarding letters of recommendation. Quietly, letters of recommendation are a key component of an application packet. Speaking with colleagues across the country, a number of students do not fully understand the type of letters of recommendation to submit. A common mistake colleagues of mine have alerted me of is having “relatives” write letters of reference. For instance, a grandmother writing a letter of reference from an academic standpoint is not a good idea. These type of errors can eliminate an applicant from contention.
Make sure as an applicant when you are identifying potential recommendation writers, that those individuals can write to what the requirements are for the school in which you are applying. As an illustration, a number of schools have fill in forms with ranking sheets. If you are on the border or edge, you may want to consider having your writer write a letter along with the filled in % ranking. Some academic admission committees prefer an applicant to have a letter along with the % sheet. Understand what the recommendation requirements are so you will be in compliance.
Another common mistake students make as well is asking for a letter from someone who really can not speak to their potential. DO NOT get caught up in the line “this person writes great letters of reference.” The reason you can not go off of word that this person writes great letters is because you may not understand the relationships that the “great writer” has with the applicant you are speaking with. Colleagues of mine have informed me of letters coming on behalf of applicants and in those letters words such as “tardiness, unprofessional, lack of tact, and not dependable” are littered throughout the letters. Due to the fact that a number of applicants never see the letter written on their behalf, ensures that you really need to know who are writing your letters?
Below are a few points that may help:
- Identify a faculty member who can speak to your academic performance
- Be on the look out for a professional colleague who can speak to your work performance
- Do not take a person’s word of mouth regarding a “great letter writer”
- Know what the academic department in which you are applying standards are
- If you have a good relationship with your writer maybe they will let you see the letter prior to mailing
- Do not ask a person to write a letter on your behalf the day before the application is due
I hope that this information has been helpful. Keep the questions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be on the look out next week for more special commentary.
Quintin Boston, Ph.D., CRC