Requesting Letters of Recommendation
Read these procedures carefully and completely.
Professors often receive requests for letters of recommendation from a large number of students, and it can be difficult to manage the task. Because these letters are so important, we ask that you to follow all of the steps below in order to make the process more efficient. Even if you are no longer on campus, please follow these procedures as closely as possible, using email and postal mail where appropriate. Deviations from these guidelines make our job more difficult and increase the probability of miscommunication or errors getting your letters to the right places on time.
1. As soon as you have identified a professor you would like to write for you, get in touch with him or her immediately (even before assembling your materials as indicated below). Give the faculty member as much time as possible to think about, draft, and finalize your letter. Two months notice is the standard lead time for graduate school letters. See this web site for more information on choosing letter writers.
2. Compile the following information, preferably no later than one month before the earliest due date. If the application process is on-line, provide the information about your letter writers to the school as early as possible so we will receive our login from the application web site as early as possible.
- Provide a copy of your unofficial transcript (printed from Capstone). On your transcript, please mark or highlight the courses taught by the letter writer.
- Provide a vita or a resume. If you are applying to a graduate program, try to provide at least a rough draft of your personal statement. If you have already graduated and have been working for some time, please provide some description of the nature of your work since graduation. The faculty member(s) who know you best would be happy to help you finalize your personal statement, vita or resume. Don't hesitate to ask us to comment on drafts. Note give your letter writers your materials as soon as possible, even if that means giving them your resume, vita, or personal statement separately.
- Provide a list of the programs, due dates, and desired action (i.e., return to you or mail to the school). When listing the programs, indicate the degree and specialization of the program (e.g., M.A. in counseling psychology, Ph.D. in clinical psychology). Use the following template to help organize the relevant and necessary information for your letter writers: TEMPLATE(in Excel format). You may wish to create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets and share that with your letter writers.
- Provide stamped, addressed envelopes for each mailed letter. Write the Psychology Department's return address on the envelope. The mailing address for all Muhlenberg faculty members is: Dept. of Psychology, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104. If a letter is supposed to be returned to you directly, be sure to include the name of the school on the back of the envelope so that you can figure out which letters go with which schools.
- Most programs provide a form for you to complete for each letter writer. Be sure to sign the waiver on the form (see http://www.uwm.edu/~ccp2/work/recletter.html for reasons why to waive your rights). Note: in most instances, merely giving your recommenders a link to the school's application web site, or emailing the postal address is insufficient.
- On each application, fill out all of the professor's identifying information (except the signature of course). The appropriate information for this section can be found on the psychology department web site in the faculty pages. It is extremely helpful if you fill out as much information as you can on the form.
3. No later than one week prior to the earliest deadline, contact the letter writer and politely remind him or her about the upcoming deadline.
4. It is good etiquette to get back in touch with your letter writers and tell them the outcome of your applications.