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Grad School Letters of Recommendation: How to Request Them

Graduate school applications often require letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or other individuals who can speak to your qualifications and potential as a graduate student. These letters play a crucial role in the admissions process, as they provide insight into your academic abilities, personal qualities, and potential for success in a graduate program. However, requesting letters of recommendation can be a daunting task, especially if you are unsure of how to approach potential recommenders or what information to provide them with. In this article, we will discuss the steps you can take to request strong letters of recommendation for your graduate school applications.

1. Identify Potential Recommenders

The first step in requesting letters of recommendation is to identify potential recommenders who can speak to your qualifications and potential as a graduate student. These individuals should be familiar with your academic work, research abilities, and personal qualities. Ideally, you should choose recommenders who can provide specific examples and anecdotes that highlight your strengths and potential for success in a graduate program.

When identifying potential recommenders, consider the following:

  • Your academic professors or advisors who are familiar with your work and can speak to your academic abilities.
  • Employers or supervisors who can speak to your professional skills and work ethic.
  • Mentors or individuals who have guided you in your research or extracurricular activities.

It is important to choose recommenders who can provide a well-rounded perspective on your abilities and potential as a graduate student. Aim for a mix of academic and professional recommenders to showcase different aspects of your qualifications.

2. Approach Potential Recommenders

Once you have identified potential recommenders, it is time to approach them and ask if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. When approaching potential recommenders, it is important to be professional, polite, and respectful of their time.

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Here are some tips for approaching potential recommenders:

  • Send an email or schedule a meeting to discuss your request in person.
  • Explain why you are interested in pursuing graduate school and why you believe they would be a strong recommender.
  • Provide them with information about the programs you are applying to and any specific requirements or guidelines for the letters of recommendation.
  • Ask if they feel comfortable writing a strong letter of recommendation on your behalf.
  • Offer to provide them with any additional information or materials that may be helpful in writing the letter, such as your resume, personal statement, or academic transcripts.
  • Thank them for their time and consideration.

Remember, it is important to approach potential recommenders well in advance of your application deadlines to give them enough time to write a thoughtful and detailed letter on your behalf.

3. Provide Relevant Information

Once your potential recommenders have agreed to write a letter on your behalf, it is important to provide them with all the relevant information they will need to write a strong and effective letter of recommendation. This includes information about your academic and professional background, your accomplishments, and your goals for graduate school.

Here are some key pieces of information you should provide to your recommenders:

  • Your current resume or curriculum vitae (CV) that highlights your academic and professional experiences, skills, and achievements.
  • A copy of your personal statement or statement of purpose for graduate school, which outlines your academic and career goals, as well as your reasons for pursuing a graduate degree.
  • A list of the programs you are applying to, along with any specific requirements or guidelines for the letters of recommendation.
  • Any relevant academic transcripts or records that showcase your academic performance and achievements.
  • Specific examples or anecdotes that highlight your strengths, such as research projects, academic papers, or professional accomplishments.
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By providing your recommenders with this information, you are helping them to write a more personalized and effective letter that speaks to your unique qualifications and potential as a graduate student.

4. Follow Up and Express Gratitude

After your potential recommenders have agreed to write a letter on your behalf and you have provided them with all the necessary information, it is important to follow up and express your gratitude for their time and effort. This not only shows your appreciation for their support but also helps to maintain a positive and professional relationship with them.

Here are some tips for following up and expressing gratitude:

  • Send a thank-you email or note to your recommenders after they have submitted their letters.
  • Keep them updated on the status of your applications and any acceptances or offers you receive.
  • Consider sending a small token of appreciation, such as a handwritten note or a small gift, to show your gratitude.
  • Stay in touch with your recommenders even after the application process is over, as they can continue to provide guidance and support throughout your academic and professional journey.

Remember, your recommenders are taking time out of their busy schedules to write a letter on your behalf, so it is important to show your appreciation and gratitude for their support.

5. Maintain Professional Relationships

Finally, it is important to maintain professional relationships with your recommenders even after the application process is over. These individuals can continue to provide guidance, support, and mentorship throughout your academic and professional journey.

Here are some tips for maintaining professional relationships with your recommenders:

  • Stay in touch with your recommenders through email, social media, or occasional meetings.
  • Update them on your academic and professional achievements, such as publications, presentations, or job offers.
  • Seek their advice and guidance on future academic or career decisions.
  • Consider offering to write a letter of recommendation for them in the future, if appropriate.
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By maintaining professional relationships with your recommenders, you are not only showing your gratitude for their support but also building a network of mentors and advisors who can continue to support and guide you throughout your academic and professional journey.

Summary

Requesting letters of recommendation for graduate school applications can be a challenging and intimidating process. However, by following the steps outlined in this article, you can approach potential recommenders with confidence and provide them with the information they need to write strong and effective letters on your behalf. Remember to identify potential recommenders who can speak to your qualifications and potential as a graduate student, approach them professionally and respectfully, provide them with relevant information, follow up and express gratitude, and maintain professional relationships with them even after the application process is over. By taking these steps, you can increase your chances of securing strong letters of recommendation that will enhance your graduate school applications and showcase your qualifications and potential as a graduate student.

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