Skip Navigation

Requirements for requesting letters of recommendation

Procedure for requesting a Letter of Recommendation from faculty.

When requesting a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, it is important to do so in person or via e-mail at least two weeks prior to the deadline, though greater lead-time is much preferred. When you approach the faculty member, describe clearly what it is you are applying for and be prepared to provide the following:

1. A clear description of the job or school you are applying for. Be specific: what is the exact job title or name of the program? While online information may be helpful to the faculty member as a back-up, it is preferred that you distill all the crucial information for him or her in one place.

2. A brief statement about your qualifications, the reasons you would be the ideal candidate, and any applicable courses or work that prepare you for this position. You may also want to address personal qualities mentioned in the position’s description.

3. A current resume. For advice on creating a good resume, please contact the Career Center for guidance.

4. The contact person and the address to which the letter is being sent. Use proper formal name and title of your recommender. Casualness is not appropriate to a formal application.

5. A stamped and addressed envelope for each letter you want sent out, unless it’s an online submission.

You will absolutely be turned down if you do not meet the deadlines or provide the materials necessary. You will receive the best letter if you allow even more lead-time and assemble your materials carefully.

It is important to perform well in your classes and in any work positions while at Carleton in order to request the letter from your potential recommender. You cannot expect that everyone you ask will either be able to write the letter, nor will they agree if your performance has been poor. As such, you should consider well ahead of time if it is appropriate to approach a given faculty member for such a letter.

Notice in particular the waiver of your legal right to examine what the recommender has 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 do not sign the waiver, the institution receiving your application and recommendation may well wonder whether an opinion was made falsely positive because the recommender did not feel free to be frank. Some schools do disregard recommendations lacking the waiver of the student’s right to examine the contents. If you ask that a letter be written rather than supplying a form to be filled out, you may provide a separate signed waiver, to be attached to the recommender’s 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.” Then sign this statement and add the date.

 

To help you in assembling the materials for your recommender, you may find it helpful to fill out the following questionnaire:

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR STUDENTS REQUESTING LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

1. Your contact information, including:

·         Name

·         email address

·         permanent address

·         campus address

·         phone

2. Your basic academic information, including:

·         graduation year

·         major

·         concentration (if any)

·         work experience off/on campus during your time at Carleton.

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

4. Summer internships or work experience: Have you held positions that prepared you for the job or graduate program for which you are applying? What skills did this provide, and what did you learn from the experience?

5. Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities while at Carleton? Did you play a leadership role?

6. What classes have you taken from the recommender? 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 research or creative projects you completed for the course(s) and the comments, please include them.

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

8. Please list the actual deadlines for each job, internship, or program for which you are applying.

(Revised March 2015)