Thank you for reaching out to me about a letter of recommendation! I’ve put this page together so that you’ll know all of the information you need to get the best possible letter.
When applying for graduate school, scholarships, or study abroad, institutions require the recommending faculty member to certify their identity and upload letters directly to the application system or dossier management program.
In general, letters from me will be most effective when relevant to either undergraduate study (scholarships, study abroad, etc.) or, for graduate school, one of my professional areas of expertise: English literature, humanities, and composition. (Law school is broadly considered as a humanities discipline, so that counts!)
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:
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. Rest assured that if I agree to write for you, it means that I am able write you a strong letter that will help your application. Similarly, with scholarship letters, committees tend to take confidential letters more seriously than open letters, so that is my default unless we’ve discussed another plan.
Like most faculty, if I cannot write you a strong letter of recommendation, I will decline to write the letter. 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:
If you are a PSU M.A. student considering applying to PhD programs in English and would like a guide of what to consider, please check out this resource.