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Recommendation letters

I am happy to write letters of recommendation for current or former students. In order to help me write the strongest possible letter for you, please make sure that you provide me with the following:

  • Complete information about the program or job that you are applying for (including a description of the job or the name of the specific degree program / study abroad program and a link to the program website; the name and address of the person to whom the letter should be sent [if it is not a standard online recommendation form]; any other special directions concerning the letter of recommendation; and the deadline).
  • Copies of any documents that you are submitting as part of the application: cover letter, statement of purpose, personal essay, CV or resumé, writing sample, etc. It's fine to send me rough drafts if you don't have the final versions ready in advance of the deadline.
  • Names and dates for the courses you took with me as well as representative samples of work that you did in these courses (e.g., final papers or other writing samples). This is particularly important for former students, since it's hard for me to remember specific details of your work, and those will help me to write a stronger letter.
  • Any other information about your reasons for applying for this particular program, your career goals, or other details that you wish you could include in your application but don't really fit. I will try to incorporate as much information as I can and tailor my letter to the specific position or program.

You must request the letter of recommendation at least three weeks before the deadline. I'm aware that sometimes an opportunity presents itself at the last minute, and I will consider requests with a shorter deadline if my schedule allows. However, I will definitely refuse repeated last-minute requests.

I will agree to write a recommendation letter for you only if I feel that I can write a strong letter. This does not mean that I dislike you or think that you are not qualified, it just means that I feel like I don't have enough information about you and your true abilities to present you in the best light, and I don't want to jeopardize your application by writing a lukewarm, non-commital letter. If you think that your performance in the course(s) you took with me was not really representative of your abilities, you should consider asking someone else to serve as a recommender.