I am happy to write a letter of recommendation for a student, if I can make a strong case. Things to keep in mind include:
- I need a reasonable amount of lead time (~2 weeks).
- I will report the grade (e.g., A) and relative standing (e.g., top 10%). I recommend asking professors with which you had at least an A- and were in the top 25% so they can write you a strong letter.
- I will report how long I've known you (e.g., two semesters). I recommend asking professors you've taken multiple classes with.
The quality of the letter increases with the amount of information you provide to me about the position, your aspirations, and why my class was relevant to you as a student and the position. (Michael Ernst's has worthwhile recommendations on requesting a letter; I typically follow Ernst's advice on writing a letter and Clemson's guidelines.) In short:
- Tell me about the position and why you want it. Send me a link to a description if possible. How would the position fit into your larger career or life aspirations? If you've written a personal statement or essay for the position, share that with me.
- Remind me which courses (title and semester) you took with me and the course topics you liked and assignments that you enjoyed or excelled at and if or how this is relevant to the position.
- Tell me what you've been up to since our class, including any activities or honors that might be related to the position.
- Give me all the necessary contact and address information, or even an addressed and stamped envelope. (You can leave this in my departmental mailbox.)
Finally, if you get the position let me know and what you thought of the experience afterwards. First, I'd like to hear from you and, second, is this something I should recommend other students for?