Letters of recommendation are a vital part of professional and graduate school applications. Though the number and type required may vary by field, letters from instructors, professors and professionals in your field are commonly expected. Research your particular programs for specifics regarding the best possible recommendations.
Plan Ahead! It takes time for someone to get to know you well enough to write a strong letter of recommendation. Make an effort early on to get to know professors and professionals in your field who can write about your academic and professional strengths and accomplishments with detail and specificity. Ask one or two months beforehand so you don’t miss any deadlines.
Ask your writers for letters when they know the most about you – right after you finish a class, at the end of an internship or job, etc. – so their letters can reflect in detail, your entire experience together. Writers can send your letters at the time you apply, but if you get to know a writer earlier, consider collecting letters before it’s time to apply.
The Career Services Center recommends Interfolio.com to collect, store and distribute your letters to professional and graduate schools. For a small fee, gather your letters over time and control when and where they’re sent. Writers also like it because they only have to write one letter – Interfolio duplicates and sends copies to as many schools as you request. Compatible with virtually* any graduate school application, Interfolio is available 24/7 and easy to use:
*Most schools will accept letters from Interfolio. However, a few will require letters to be uploaded directly to their school/program’s website by the writer. Always check with your schools before submitting your letters.