Thank you for reaching out to me about a letter of recommendation!

In general, letters from me will be most effective when relevant to either undergraduate study (study abroad, scholarships, etc.) or my professional area of expertise: English literature and composition.

In order to write the strongest possible letter, I will need a few things from you when you request the letter, at least three weeks prior to the letter’s due date:

  1. The name of the program and information about the letter’s requirements.
  2. A copy (a draft is completely fine) of your personal statement for the program to which you’re applying.
  3. A list of each of the classes you’ve taken from me, the term in which you took/completed them, and brief description of your projects/essays from each class (if you can include essay thesis statements that is excellent!).

When applying to graduate school, students sometimes ask about whether they should choose to waive their rights to access LOR files. This is a completely individual decision, but in general, a strong letter in which the student has waived their access rights weighs more favorably to graduate committees than a letter in which the student has maintained access. This is because they assume faculty will write with more candor in a confidential letter, and that your waiver of access is an expression of trust in your faculty and your past performance.

Like most faculty, if I cannot write you a strong letter of recommendation, I will let you know. Most students prefer to be told this honestly, so that they can pursue a strong letter from another faculty member. There are a few reasons a faculty member may be unable to write a strong letter of recommendation, including:

  1. Not having enough information about or experience working directly with you to write a strong letter.
  2. Not having enough notice/time to write a strong letter (I require a minimum of three weeks, but sometimes will need longer during busier times or if I have already committed to several letters with similar due dates).
  3. Not feeling comfortable writing a strong letter based upon your class performance, participation, or professionalism.
  4. Not having a good expertise “fit” with a graduate-level program being pursued (i.e., some graduate programs really need a strong letter from a faculty member with more relevant expertise in the area in order to be competitive).