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Recommendation letter advice

How to solicit strong recommendation letters

Sometimes the hardest part of the application can be making sure you have great letters of recommendation to verify your fit for a graduate-level program.

Here are a few tips to ensure you have supportive letters that reinforce your strength as a candidate:

  1. 1

    Choose the right recommender. Not all references are created equal. Be sure whomever you choose can share positive insights about the talented, knowledgeable person you are.

  2. 2

    Why me? When you reach out to your chosen references, let them know clearly why you are choosing them as your recommender. You could consider asking a work supervisor or professor whose mentorship was formative to your career or academic development, and explain what you learned from them and why you asked them to act as a reference.

  3. 3

    Say why the program interests you. Tell your recommender what program you are applying for and why. This will help your recommender understand your passion so they may include it in your letter.

  4. 4

    Include all relevant documents. Share an updated resume and the essay you submitted about your reason for study. Even if your recommender knows you well, this information will remind them of all your accomplishments.

  5. 5

    Submit letters properly. How you submit your references can vary by program. Some programs ask that you include your recommender’s contact information, and will email or call them directly. Some programs require you to submit the full letter of recommendation in the application. Be sure to follow the directions carefully so this step can be completed on time.

  6. 6

    Don’t forget deadlines. Remember that it’s your responsibility to have your letters of recommendation completed and submitted correctly. Let your reference know when letters are due, and be sure to remind them a week before and a day before the deadline.

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