How to Ask for a Recommendation

One of a professor's duties is to write recommendation letters for students, usually for fellowships or grad-school applications. This Web page is intended to make that task easier for me by outlining your own role in the process.

General Rules

There are a number of useful general principles for recommendations. Some will apply to anybody you ask to write a letter; others are personal preferences of mine:

Sample of the Ideal Packet

The best packet I ever got from a student looked like this. Note that it's sorted by due date so that I'll be sure to get everything done on time:

School Deadline Where to Find Form What to Do With Your Letter Once It's Done
UC Berkeley 12/15/02 In packet attached Mail to address listed on form
NYU 12/15/02 In packet attached Return to me
Harvard 1/2/03 Online. You will receive an e-mail. Info in the e-mail
UC Irvine 1/15/03 On site listed
If you have any questions, e-mail me at or call me at 555-1212.