If I have agreed to write a letter of reference for you, please send me the following information by e-mail (email@example.com) at least two weeks before the first letter is due:
These materials should be in a common file format like plain text, Word, or PDF. If there are paper forms to be filled out, place them in a file folder with your name on it and bring the folder to my office, 623 Snow, or drop it off in the Mathematics Department office, 405 Snow.
In your e-mail, please include the answers to the following questions. (Depending on what you are applying for, some questions may not be relevant, but the more details you can provide, the better.)
I will also want to meet with you to discuss these questions in person, but having this information in writing will help me write an accurate letter. I will try to let you know by e-mail when I have finished your letter, but you should feel free to send me e-mail reminders as the deadline approaches.
Some general philosophy: Writing reference letters on behalf of students is an important part of my job, and I take it very seriously. My goal in writing a reference letter is to give my candid, professional opinion of why you are qualified for whatever position, program or scholarship you are applying for. I think the best letters are those that say something beyond what the reader can learn from the applicant's resume, transcript, standardized test scores, etc. If I merely write "Student X received an A in my class," it will not help your application much. On the other hand, the more informed I am and the more detailed my letter is, the more weight it should carry - hence all the details I ask for above.
Should you waive access? It's entirely up to you. Whether you choose to waive access will not affect the letter I write for you. (Your other letter-writers may feel differently; ask them.) If I cannot honestly write you a strong letter, or if I think there is someone else whose letter will strengthen your application more, then I will tell you.
If you are applying to graduate school, you may be interested in my advice on writing personal statements.
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