Letters of Recommendation

Oglethorpe University faculty members write numerous letters of recommendation each year on behalf of current and former students. Request an appointment two to three months in advance of your deadline to discuss your plans. Be sure to ask if the faculty member you are asking feels comfortable writing you a strong letter of recommendation. You may receive “no” as the answer; if so, move on and ask someone else.

  • Someone who is familiar with your work.
  • Someone who holds you in high regard.
  • Someone who can include personal anecdotes from their experiences with you
  • Several people who will complement each other (Ex: A professor to discuss your academics, a former employer or supervisor to discuss your work ethic, and a volunteer site supervisor to discuss your character).
  • Do not assume that you should not ask someone with an important title.  They may be willing to write it for you.  Do not be afraid to ask.
  • Think about the job or school to which you are applying.  Is there someone you know who has a connection to them?  Their recommendation may be particularly relevant, if so.
  • Consider the writing skills of the person you are asking.  Are you confident in their ability to communicate well and thoughtfully about your qualities?
  • Make sure the individual you ask is comfortable with the request.
  • Ask the individual in person or by phone.  E-mail should only be used in special circumstances.
  • Explain why you need the letter.
  • Provide them with relevant information that may help them compose the letter such as information about the graduate program/job, your resume, letter of interest, etc.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to ask for the letter—give them plenty of notice.
  • Give the individual a deadline by which you need the letter and do not be afraid to remind them politely as the deadline draws closer.

At your meeting, provide the faculty member with these materials:

  • A preliminary list of the graduate programs you are considering
  • Your transcript
  • Copies of two or three graded papers or projects that represent the quality of your work
  • Your statement of purpose (which you should be asked to critiqued)
  • Your resume or C.V.
  • A brief list of what you think would be most important for a graduate program to know about you
  • Clear instructions for submitting the letter and stamped, addressed envelopes if the letters will not be submitted electronically
  • When you need the letters submitted
  • You may want to give materials to the person you are asking for recommendation in a folder so they can keep up with the materials.  Include the deadline in this packet.
  • You may consider asking an “extra” person to write a letter in case on of your letters falls through.
  • ALWAYS remember to thank the person who wrote your letter.
  • Follow up with your references, especially if you received the job or gained admission to the program.