Letters of Recommendation
You will need letters of recommendation to include with applications to graduate and professional schools. These letters should be written by professors and supervisors who know you well. It is in your best interest to find recommenders who actually know you and can provide the reader with insight as to who you are as a student, researcher, and person rather than to ask someone who gave you a good grade or knows you on a similarly surface level. You will likely need at least 3 recommendations, so think early and carefully about whom you will ask.
Tips for Getting Strong Recommendations
- Get to know your professors and/or supervisors. Take advantage of office hours. Ask questions. Participate in class.
- Ask each contact if he or she can give a positive recommendation.
- Provide each writer with a resume or list of academic and extracurricular involvements.
- Give ample time. Do not wait until the last minute.
Throughout this process you will be managing a lot of communication and confidential documents. Interfolio is an online credentials management tool to which you can subscribe. You will be able to store all letters, transcripts, etc. with 24/7 access. If you are planning to take time off between W&L and graduate or professional school this tool will allow you to gather your necessary documents while at W&L, maintain confidentiality, and then submit them at the appropriate time.
This list of links should be helpful as you get started:
- Gradschools.com: includes more than 100 pages of instruction for personal statement writing
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
- Quintessential Careers
- W&L Writing Center