Yes, it is that time of year, when professors are writing students letters of reference for graduate school. Thus, it’s worth my re-post of this Oct 2010 post with some additional comments. Just a few words of advice to students: Be organized. Don’t be a tyrant! My experience is that 99.9% of students are earnest and really want the help. What happens is that poor time management adds stress to an already stressful endeavor. So, this photo is shared with lots of smiles. And, I realize that college students are not children. The quote was one that made me smile. That is all.
1. Ask professors weeks before the letters are due. And, please don’t be offended if we decline.
2. Provide us all the information we need. Where is the letter going? When is it due? Do we need to complete an applicant assessment form? Can we upload the letter online? Please fill out any forms and try to avoid asking the letter writer to do so (your name and SIN or SSN info)
I ask for a copy of your letter of intent and cv/resume. I might even meet with you and ask what your motivation is for continuing your education.
3. Remind us. Send an email a few days before a due date.
4. Thank us. This can be an email or a note. It’s not necessary to do more. Remember that your tenure line faculty actually get paid to mentor and do things like write letters. Keep in mind that part-time faculty do not get compensated for this extra work. Remember to thank them profusely–a card, bottle of wine or a face to face thank you is nice.
5. Remember that your organization makes this process easier. You will fill less anxiety and provide your reference writer ample time and information.
6. Keep us informed with the good news or what your Plan B or Plan C is.
Good luck with this process!