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Beth Shuster eoshuster at UCDAVIS.EDU
Mon Jun 12 13:48:49 EST 1995

On 6/8, stacia friedman-hill <stacia at chaos.ucdavis.edu> wrote:

>...The first
>thing is your letters of recommendation. Make sure that the people
>who write these for you know you well enough to describe you in
>detail. It's not enough for them to say "She took my course and
>got a good grade." This information is already on your transcript.
>Instead, you need someone who can say "I supervised her research project
>and she showed great originality and a strong analytical mind, as
>demonstrated by ...." 

Just a note on requesting recommendations:
A few simple things can make it MUCH easier for your references to write
you good letters:

First, ask whether or not the individual would be willing to write you a
letter (never just assume).  If they hesitate, you may be better off asking
someone else (although hesitation may just indicate a busy schedule, it
could also indicate some reservation about writing you a good letter).

Provide your curriculum vita (cv; resume) and any personal statement that
you will be including in your application.  This can jog a professor's
memory and/or provide additional information that will allow her/him to
write a well-rounded letter.

Provide a clear time frame.

Fill in ALL of the information on the recommendation form (except for the
reference itself, and of course, the signature!) before you give it to
her/him. If you're not sure of the title, ask.

Provide a stamped, addressed envelope.

If you plan to ask the same individual for more than one letter, try to
give all of the information at the same time.  In addition to all of the
forms, envelopes, etc., provide a list of the letters you are requesting,
along with due dates and addresses (just in case an envelope gets lost in
the shuffle...).

These simple steps will make your recommender's task much easier and are
likely to put her/him in a much better frame of mind while writing!

Good Luck!


Beth Shuster                        
Univ. of California, Davis
eoshuster at ucdavis.edu

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