Did you just graduate from school? Are you headed for college or applying for a new job? If yes, then before you bid farewell to school or your old job there is one thing that you need to do, get a letter of recommendation!
Today, almost every private college and university requires at least one, if not more, recommendation letters as a part of their college admissions process. Potential employers also require recommendations to get a first-person view of you. A recommendation letter adds value to your college/job application and makes a great impression on the person processing applications.
WHO TO ASK?
When it comes to getting a letter of recommendation written, the real question is ‘who to ask’? Now you may ask a professor in school whom you like but it would be no good if that professor has never taught you. So, get a letter of recommendation written by a professor who knows you and has taught you. If you want to get someone other than a teacher, ask a manager from a previous employer or someone in the community who can be a testament to your character.
HOW TO ASK?
Asking a professor to write a letter of recommendation for you can be an anxiety-inducing experience. What can you expect? Will the professor be glad to write it for you or refuse you completely? First, what you need to know is that teachers love to help students so let go of the fear of refusal! However, since your professor will be taking out valuable time to assist you, it’s on you to make the process of letter writing smooth for the professor by being organized.
HOW TO GO ABOUT IT:
Before you get started, decide which professor you should ask? The best way to choose is to ask yourself:
- Has the professor taught me?
- Does the professor know my strengths?
- Have I done well in his/her course?
- Have I acted professionally and ethically in regards to this professor and in his/her class?
Once you’ve finalized on the professor that you’ll be requesting for the recommendation letter, go to the professor 5 or 6 weeks before the recommendation is needed. Never ask by email or stop him/her in the hallway. The best way to ask is to arrange an appointment explaining that you wish to discuss your plans for a letter of recommendation.
When you meet the professor in person, first brief him/her on your future plans, your fields of interest, the college/job you want, your ambition and your strengths.
Now humbly request the professor if he/she can write you a positive letter of recommendation that you have to submit to a college or potential employer.
If the professor agrees, bingo! Now let him/her know politely without sounding too demanding the highlights and positive aspects about you in the letter – highlighting your strengths so that the letter doesn’t sound generic but instead sound more personal.
Remember the professor is doing you a favor so you need to be on your toes to make the process of writing a quality recommendation letter for you easy. Make sure you provide the writer:
- The copies of your work (papers and project)
- Your transcript
- Your resume, if you have one
All the documents should be up to date. After the letter is written, make sure you thank the professor for taking out time for you. Though ‘thank you’ may be only words but these words show great appreciation.
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