I take recommendations seriously. When I submit a recommendation on your behalf, I not only work to convince the recipient of your qualifications, but I stake my own reputation on your capability to follow through with the demands of the position to which you are applying. This serious commitment deserves a serious request. The following points summarize my views and policies regarding recommendations.
- A relatively long, close professional relationship facilitates this activity. If you’ve only taken me for one course, I cannot guarantee as strong a recommendation as if you had taken me for a few classes, or another professor with whom you’ve taken more courses. The better you performed in my class(es), the better my recommendation will be.
- Writing a recommendation takes time, which is already at a premium. While I can rearrange next actions in a pinch, the more time you give me until the deadline, the better my recommendation will be.
- The strongest recommendation comes from a relevant source. I specialize in international relations, a branch of political science. The closer your position and interests are to mine, the better my recommendation will be.
- Current résumé or curriculum vita. Be ready for a critique of this document; after all, if I’m agreeing to recommend you, I want you to be successful.
- Current transcript. This helps me see a broader picture of your educational accomplishments.
- Application essay or personal statement. If the program does not require this, write a page explaining to what you are applying, why you are applying to it, and why you think a recommendation from me will help.
- The recommendation due date. I cannot guarantee a recommendation if the due date is less than two weeks away.
- Two positive points and two relevant negative points about yourself that are relevant to my recommendation. This helps me emphasize your strengths and address your weaknesses.