Letters of Recommendation & Transcripts
Usually, two or three letters of recommendation will be required for admission into a graduate program. Check with the institution of your choice for their policy. They may require the recommendations to be from faculty members, however, some schools may specify a mix of faculty members and others who know you well.
1. Ask your professor nicely and politely. You do not have to ask the professor in person, but do not ask the professor in a quickly jotted, informal email. If you are in doubt about the kind of recommendation the reference will write, ask them.
2. Early, early, early. It takes time and care to write a good letter of recommendation and professors are busy. Ask for the letter well in advance of the due date. How far in advance? The earlier the better–at least a month before the due date to be safe. Never ask for a letter fewer than two weeks before the deadline. Don’t forget to tell the professor the due date of application!
3. Give the professor talking points. Just because you did well in the professor’s class doesn’t mean that the professor knows you. This is very important: the more information you give the professor, the better the letter your professor can write! If you inform your professor that you won a college-wide academic award, then that information will likely end up in your letter. You may want to provide some or all of the following:
• Information about your experiences with the letter-writer (e.g., courses taken, class project topics, etc.)
• Your resume or curriculum vitae
• Information about the program to which you are applying
• Honor societies to which you belong
• Anything that makes you unique
• Awards that you have won
• Relevant work experience or internships
• Service activities such as volunteer work
• Copies of admissions essays
• Anything you want included in the letter
4. Make your professor’s job easy. Fill out as much information as you can. If the recommendation is on a graduate school form, then write the professor’s name, address, phone number, etc. on the form before you give it to the professor. If the recommendation needs to be mailed, give the professor a pre-addressed, stamped envelope. These courtesies are especially important if the professor must write several recommendations for you.
5. Waive your rights. Many letters of recommendation allow you to choose whether you waive or retain your rights to see the letter. You should always waive your rights. The readers of the letter will give the letter more weight. Many letter-writers won’t write a non-confidential letter. If you’re nervous that the letter-writer won’t write you a good letter of recommendation, then ask someone else!
6. Follow up. The absent minded professor is more than just a cliché. Your professor may forget to write your letter. Don’t be afraid to check in periodically with your professor to see if the recommendation has been sent. Just be careful not to be a nag.
7. Thank your professor! Write a thank-you note to your letter-writer (at least an email thank-you note)!
8. Did you get it? Let your professor know if you get the job, the internship, or the spot in graduate school. They want to know!
Providing your transcript to the institutions where you apply is an almost universal requirement. Visit the Registrar’s Office website for information about how to request an official transcript. Official transcripts are sealed and stamped by the Registrar’s Office. They are not provided directly to the requester, but are mailed to the institutions where you are applying.
If you are only required to submit an unofficial transcript at the time of application, you can access your records using Banner Self-Service. Simply copy “screenshots” of your academic records and paste into a Word document to submit as an attachment to the institution.
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