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Requirements for requesting letters of recommendation

Procedure for requesting a Letter of Recommendation from faculty.

Request a letter in person or by e-mail at least three weeks prior to the deadline. At this point describe clearly what it is you are applying for.

Once the faculty member agrees to write the letter, at least two weeks prior to the deadline you must provide the following:

1.A stamped and addressed envelope for each letter you want sent out.

2.The contact person and the address as to which it is being sent. Use proper formal name and title of your recommender. Casualness in relationships may allow you to call a professor by a nickname but is not appropriate to a formal application.

3.A clear description of the job or school you are applying for.

(Don’t direct your faculty to a website where they have to hunt for the information)

4.A current resume.

5.A one -page statement about your qualifications for the particular position. In a sense you are writing a letter for yourself- describing the reason you would be the ideal candidate, what courses or work you have already completed which would impact what they are looking for. Address personal qualities mentioned in the position’s description.

Make sure your answers are legible. Notice in particular the waiver of your legal rights to examine what is written. We strongly urge you to sign this waiver. Your recommender may not object to sharing his or her evaluation with you but if you don’t sign the waiver, the institution receiving your application and recommendation may well wonder whether an opinion was made falsely positive because the recommender didn’t feel free to be frank. We know that some schools more or less disregard recommendations lacking the waiver of student’s rights to examine the contents. If you ask that a letter be written rather than supplying a form to be completed, you may provide a separate signed waiver to be attached to the letter. “In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (The Buckley Amendment), I hereby waive my right to review this letter. Sign and date it.

6. In some cases the application is all on line- provide the above information in addition to the website. (If they don’t need a hard copy then the envelope is unnecessary)

Your faculty member will then create a letter on your behalf as an amalgam of all the information you have provided them. Remember this preparation is a great opportunity for self-promotion and finding a good school or interesting career.

You will absolutely be turned down if you don’t meet the deadlines or provide the materials necessary. It will be important to perform well in your classes and in any work positions while at Carleton in order to request the letter. You can’t expect that everyone you ask will either be able to write the letter, nor will they agree if your performance has been poor.

You will receive the best letter if you allow even more lead- time and carefully assemble your materials. Your professors are interested in supporting you in the process and the letters can play an important role. Do not forget to thank them for doing this, during and after the process. Absolutely write them to let them know if you were accepted for the position. Your faculty put a tremendous amount of time into letter writing so please respect this process.


1. Name

2. Permanent address (where you can always be reached) and phone number. Campus address, phone number, and email address.

3. Age

4. Class (eg, 2009)

5. Major

6. “Minors” (other departments in which you have done extensive work) and Concentration

7. Summer experience and/or experience since graduation (be specific)

8. Work experience at Carleton College

9. How good, in general, has your academic record been? In what courses did you excel? Why? In what courses were you weak? Why?

10. Extra-curricular activities? Membership or leadership role?

11. For what kind of job, internship, off-campus program, or graduate program would you like to be recommended? Please describe it.

12. What classes have you taken from me (if I was your section leader in 101 or 102, please indicate this)? How did you do (grades etc), and do you think your work for the course was characteristic of your work generally? If you have a record of the topics of the papers you wrote for my course(s) and the comments, please include.

13. Please list the deadlines for the recommendations you’re asking me to write (I’d prefer to see actual dates, rather than “as soon as possible”).

14. Please tell me whether your application was successful, once you learn.

(Revised February 2010)