ASGS#3: Asking for recommendation letters

Hi everyone!

Today is about recommendation letters. A recommendation letter is a page document that professors or supervisors write about how you are or aren’t prepared for graduate school. You have to understand that not everyone will write a good recommendation letter.

You can ask faculty members, university administrative position within your field or principal investigators in a company. If you are applying in humanities, economy, art, communication, law, etc. you should use faculty members but you can also include one person such as a famous painter, a well publish writer, politician, supervisors in your internship, CEO of a company, a person in a development bank, a well-known journalist etc. It is important to not ask a person just because they are known by everyone what is important is how that person can speak about you, because his/her job is to persuade people who you should be accepted to that school. If the recommenders doesn’t know you just by saying that they should accept you isn’t enough.

To be certain that the recommendation letter is going to be a good one, you have to do what I said in the previous post, you have to get to know your professors. Having a good grade in the class doesn’t mean that they know you, they usually have 150 or even more students that semester. Go to office hours even if you don’t have questions, if you understand well the material read more on the topic and come by the office with topic and questions that will not be cover in class, that will show initiative.

Professors eat, invite them to lunch or a coffee and discuss with him or her your interest in applying to graduate school and if he/she can give you an inside or how it was when they applied. Once you get to know them ask a different day for the letter.

You should ask for the letter by person if possible, if you aren’t capable of doing so then ask the by email.You should ask with months of anticipation and occasionally send them a reminder because they are super busy and might forget.

When writing the email since he/she is not seeing you in person, unless you work directly with them for weeks, months or years, bring some aspect of your previous conversation of applying to graduate school and reiterate to them how important is that you go with this path. Ask them if they can provide a positive strong letter. They might say no because they might not have the time or they think another person can make you a stronger letter than themselves. It is important that you mention positive strong letter because as I mention before there are people who will do the letter to avoid dealing with you and even write bad things about you or write a general letter and those things can harm your application. If you application get pass the dean they will consider a lot the letters of recommendation and sometimes there are people in your university that also apply to the same program and the professor might write the same letter for both of you.  Imagine you are part of the admission committee and you read how this student is a good problem solver, a person that come with big initiative and surprise people, going beyond of what was expected blah blah vs this person obtain a good grade in test and in every work perform in the class. Which one will you choose?

Hope this helps you! Never be afraid to ask for letters because they pass through the same process and are willing to help you get there.

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