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Letter of Reference

  • Request for Recommendation Form

    Request for Recommendation Instructions

    From time to time Biology majors need letters of recommendation from faculty in support of applications for scholarships, graduate schools, and other special processes. The Department has a standard application form that must be submitted by the student making the request. A copy of the request form can be found in the appendix of this handbook.

    For students planning more than mediocre careers, letters of reference are important. You will need to begin cultivating good letters of reference by developing a good reputation. Simply put, in order for faculty to write good letters about you, you have to be good; that is, honest, hardworking and with demonstrated academic success. Predicting that you will do better next semester has no value. If you are planning to go to graduate school or professional schools, work hard to be in the top 10% of your class.

    Start immediately, Work hard and enjoy your studies. Have good relationships with your fellow students as well as with the faculty with whom you come in contact.

    When you are ready to request that faculty members prepare letters of recommendation for you please keep the following in mind:

    Give Advance Notice: Submit your request to the faculty member at least two weeks in advance. Follow up this request after about a week with an e-mail or telephone reminder to the faculty member from whom you have requested the reference.

    Provide Information:  The “Request for Letter of Recommendation” form has been designed to serve as a checklist to ensure that you have given the faculty the information necessary to prepare a thorough recommendation. In addition to the suggestions on the form you may want to include a resume or other material that may be helpful. Even if the faculty member already knows a great deal about you, it would be wise not to assume that they will remember everything you might think important to include.

    Consider Waiving the Right to Review: It is your right to review any letter written about you. Often recipients of letters will offer you the option of giving up this right. An advantage of doing so is that the receiver of the letter will be more confident that the letter is candid. There is the expectation that faculty who know a student will read what has been written about them are more likely to try to say good things about the student, omitting any comments about weaknesses or limitations. A strong and positive letter for which the student has waived the right to review will be taken quite seriously. Non-confidential letters are generally not given much weight in the process as a result.

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