Guidelines for Requesting Letters of Recommendation
One of the most important part of any application is the letter of recommendation. As members of the physics department, we feel that an important part of our job is to write these letters for you. In order to expedite the process we will need some assistance from you.
screening committees will have access to the information provided by your
application, as supplemented by transcripts and test scores. However,
they particularly rely on faculty references to answer the following sorts
- Does the student have the necessary combination of skills, abilities,
work habits, group skills, preparation, maturity, drive and long-range
goals for the appointment?
- How does this student compare with others at a similar stage who have
gone on in this graduate school or other program?
- Are the student's grades and GRE scores reflective of his or her
potential, or do they understate or overstate his or her chances for
success in this program?
- What are the special qualities, achievements or experiences that make
this student stand out in the national (or sometimes international)
competition for this position or admission?
- How would this student handle the duties normally assigned to
beginning teaching assistants? How has the student performed in paid
employment in your department?
- What is your overall recommendation?
Information to be Provided
When you request a letter of recommendation, please provide the
following information. This background will be useful to put this
position into the context of your overall preparation and career plans.
- Provide the professor with a copy of your GAC degree audit.
GRE (or LSAT, MCAT, etc.) scores and percentiles are also helpful.
ETS sends GRE scores to us if you listed GAC as a school to receive
them, which we strongly encourage you to do, but they may not arrive
in time for some of your letter deadlines.
- A brief synopsis of any activities outside your course work (e.g.
summer internships, research, technical employment) which you believe
would make you better qualified for the position for which you are
applying. Please indicate whether you hold a Partners in
Scholarship or other merit-based financial aid awards here at GAC.
- In your own words, explain why you are applying for this
particular position (or graduate school). Make mention of your
past studies (i.e. your preparation) as well as your overall future
plans. This information should be communicated either in writing
or via a brief chat.
- You should also mention if there are any special items that you
would specifically prefer that the faculty to discuss in your
Paperwork to be Filled Out by Applicant
in as much information on the form as possible. Make sure that you
type in your personal information as well as the sections that
identify the professor who will be writing the recommendation.
For those applications that have forms, use the full name and title
for the professor using the following style and information:
[First, Middle Initial, Last]
Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, etc.
College Ave., St. Peter, MN 56082-1498
school or program requests a letter but does not supply a form, give
the professor a piece of paper with all the specifics, person,
address, deadline date, position & program to which you are applying,
When requesting multiple letters, whether on forms or stand-alone,
include a check list of all requested letters, with the deadline
dates. In this check list, indicate whether their is a separate form
required for each letter of recommendation. Make helpful
comments by each school's name to clarify that particular application.
This is particularly important if you are applying for different sorts
of programs at different places.
- Type a
stamped envelope for each letter you have requested, and be sure to
address the envelope correctly. Include the return address of
the professor who will be writing the letter. You may obtain
Gustavus letterhead envelopes from the department.
supply your own envelopes, for the return address use: Dr. [First,
Middle Initial, Last Name], Department of Physics, Gustavus Adolphus
College, St. Peter, MN 56082-1498. A few schools ask that the student
package all the signed and sealed letters with his or her application,
so no stamp is used in that case.
- Sign the
appropriate line in the waiver section. We
recommend that they sign the "I do waive..." line.
Not Wait Until the Last Minute to Request Letters! It is not unusual
for a professor to receive requests for 40-80 letters between early
December and mid-February. Nearly all require some sort of form to be
filled out, in addition to writing the letter.
are welcome to use the department's long-distance phones during business
hours for essential calls in connection with the application process. Just
ask one of the faculty or Linda Hewitt, the department secretary, and the
will find you a phone. Leave a list of the numbers you called with your
name so that they know these are authorized calls.
your recommenders informed of changes in your plans and applications, and,
of course your acceptances and turn-downs.
Address of this document: http://physics.gustavus.edu/recommendations_guidelines.htm
Last modification: Friday, March 28, 2003
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