I enjoy writing letters of reference
for my best students because it gives me a chance to reflect on the skills and
abilities I have personally witnessed develop over their time at Winthrop. I put a lot of
thought into each letter I
write and therefore writing letters is a time-consuming process. If you want me
to write a letter of reference for you, I need you to help me by following these
steps. I suspect your other references will appreciate you doing these things
for them as well, but ask them if there is anything special you can do to make
the process easier for them.
1. Ask for a reference at least two weeks before it has to be submitted or mailed. If you are asking me, bring a signed copy of my FERPA Release form with you. This will grant me permission to discuss your educational record in my recommendation (Dr. Fortner-Wood's FERPA Release Form).
2. Ask face-to-face. Approach your references during office hours or contact them to schedule a meeting with them to make your request.
a. Remind your references in which class(es) or projects they have worked with you.
b. Remind them if they have written letters for you before and, if so, for what and when.
c. Ask them if they are able to write letters of recommendation by the due date.
d. Tell them what type of program(s) or position(s) for which you are applying.
e. Tell them what kind of skills or experiences you will bring to that program or position that you think makes you a strong candidate.
3. Deliver a folder to each reference that includes the following materials.
c. Complete all of questions on the forms you can including
i. Your name
ii. Name of program/position to/for which you are applying
iii. Your decision to waive/not waive your rights to view the letter (if applicable)
iv. Name of reference (e.g., Dr. Cheryl Fortner-Wood)
v. Title of reference (e.g., Associate Professor of Psychology or Director of McNair scholars)
vi. Reference's address (e.g., Winthrop University, Psychology or McNair Scholars Program, Rock Hill, SC 29733)
vii. Reference's phone number (e.g., 803-323-2641 or 803-323-2125)
viii. Reference's fax (e.g., 803-323-2371 or 803-323-3125)
ix. Reference's e-mail (e.g., email@example.com)
x. How long have you known you/the reference (in years).
d. Be sure to give a pre-addressed envelope for each program that requires a mailed form:
i. Provide the reference's return address on each envelope.
ii. Be sure to put the correct name and full address for the institution to which the letter is to be sent (use the format specified on the application materials).
iii. Place appropriate postage on each envelope (if necessary).
iv. Using a post-it (or paper with a paper clip), indicate on each envelope the date the letter must be postmarked, faxed, e-mailed, or picked up by you as well as if the letter is to be mailed by me or by you.
v. Write “re: your name” in the bottom left corner of each envelope just in case your materials are mixed up with those of other students at the institution where you are applying.
4. Gently remind your references a week before the materials are due. Sending an email that says something like: "Dr. Fortner-Wood, I am writing to thank you again for agreeing to write letters of recommendation for me. I know your schedule is busy and I am grateful for you for taking the time to work on those this week" will show appreciation and remind.
5. As soon as you learn you've been accepted, let your reference know so they can celebrate with you. Be sure to contact them again when you've made your decision about where you will go or what position you will accept.
Here are links with advice about asking for reference letters.
This page was last updated by
This page was last updated by Dr. Fortner-Wood on 02/11/2013.