It is a good idea for you to take the time to get to know your professors outside the classroom (i.e., during office hours). The better the faculty members know you both academically and personally, the better positioned they are to write strong letters of recommendations on your behalf. Some additional tips:
- Provide your professors with a copy of your personal statement and resume so that they are able to get a more complete understanding of who you are and what your goals are.
- The majority of graduate schools require the writer to attach a form. Because many other students will be asking for recommendations, assist your professors by completing the recommendation form and including a stamped, pre-addressed envelope.
- Begin the search for letters of recommendation early. If you wait until the last minute, there is a chance that your professors will not be able to write the letters on your behalf due to the high demand from other students who made requests before you did.
- Consider carefully which professors to approach to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. Only ask those individuals in a position to speak accurately and positively about you and your abilities to succeed.
- Legally, you have the option to waive your right to read the recommendation written for you.
- Consider using an online credential service, such as Interfolio.com, which will allow you to store your letters of recommendation for future use for a small fee. This service is also beneficial because if you decide to apply to graduate school two or three years down the road, you will have stored letters of recommendation from professors written when they knew you personally.
- Inform your recommenders of your progress and what schools you have been accepted to and ultimately decide to attend. Many professors are interested in knowing what graduate schools their students end up attending.
- Do not forget to send a thank you letter to those that wrote your recommendations.