It is probable that three to five letters of recommendation may be required to enter graduate school. It is recommended that at least two of these letters come from your major field of study and at least one should come from a teacher/educator in your minor area of study.
Key Points for securing graduate school letters of recommendation
- Develop a relationship with the educators/faculty members writing the graduate school letters of recommendation over the longest period of time possible. They sould be aware of your strengths, character, and communication skills.
- Determine the best person to write the letter. Don’t force anyone to write a letter of recommendation. Notify them at least 6-8 weeks in advance of the letter being due. Take into account the educator’s schedule/time of year when approaching them. No one writing a letter of recommendation wants to feel rushed, and any student applying to graduate school does not want a rushed letter of recommendation in their application file. In addition, clearly identify the intent of the letter of recommendation to the educator (business school, physical therapy school, or medical school).
- Create a list of your personal and academic achievements that can be given to the educator and used when writing the letter. You want to include specific examples of success and overcoming hurdles in school. Moreover, an educator may be able to explain a poor score or withdrawal on your transcript that was not covered in the essay portion of the application. If the educator recommended withdrawing from a class, that may help explain W’s on a transcript.
- Set-up a contact system between the educator and yourself using e-mail or telephone number, so that if any point on the personal achievement text needs to be clarified when the educator sits down to write the letter. Also identify a date the application will be turned in so that the educator can send the letter of recommendation near the same time.
- Give your educator’s telephone number on your final application if the academic review has any questions. Be sure on how many copies are required and exactly where the finished letter should be sent. Provide an addressed and pre-stamped envelope with each letter request. Provide the full name, title, and complete mailing address of the person to whom a letter is to be written.
- Don’t use references from relatives, family members or people that don’t know you well.
- Waive your right to review the letters whenever possible. A sealed letter will have more merit during a review process.
- If you are asked to write a rough draft for graduate school letters of recommendation, graciously accept.