(Last updated: April 3, 2012)
I am currently not accepting any recletter requests that would come due before April 20. Sorry.
I usually take on a full plate of recletters that makes me work close to the limit in terms of deadlines. If I get sick or if a combination of events in classes crowds up my schedule unexpectedly, I can't gt to recletter work very quickly. For this reason, I ask for early requests so I can find a way to work things in. If you ask for a letter on short notice, there is a bout a 50% chance that I will say I can't do it and a 50% chance that it will be a more simple and rushed letter than usual.
I write about 60 letters every year. To handle the mess of it, I make some requests, as below.
Write me early, then remind me 2 weeks ahead of when you need the letter (if we haven't talkde for a week or so) and again 1 week ahead of that time — if you can remember to do so.
Please use this subject line for all recletter correspondence: LASTNAME_firstname recletter due to me DATE01 and due to them DATE02 as FORMAT
DATE01 = The date you need the materials from me when the process goes through you. Use this as a guideline for when you need the letter from me:
DATE02 = the actual deadline (for rolling deadlines tell me so and give a reasonable date, such as "rolling, first week of May?")
FORMAT = one of these: by form to me, by form directly to them, online
*When the letter doesn't go through you, drop the first date: LASTNAME_firstname recletter due to them DATE02 as FORMAT
Please cut-and-paste this into your email, at the top, and complete it. If you write a date in any standard way, I can link the email to my calendar reminders, which is good for both of us.
- Your full name as you use it on applications:
- Your graduation date (optional):
- How I am completing the letter (such as "using the form I gave you" "using the file I attached" "they will contact you from their website"—mentioning that you have given me forms helps remind me to look inside a real folder and not just work from the computer):
- Due to you by (when relevant, also, this should match the subject line date):
- Actual deadline as stated by the institution:
Then, please read the below and write whatever else is you wish or that I've requested:
Please give me completed forms (and mention in your email that you have done so if possible)! Law school applicants, for example, definitely need the LSAC form with the bar code on it. JET folk do, too. Every recommendation letter season I sit down to write a rec letter under a tight deadline only to see that the student has given me an entirely blank form. What name do you use when applying? I have NO idea. You haven’t signed one way or the other your right to view the letter. I can’t sign for you! You haven’t told me what program you are applying for, etc. Once we miss a work window on your rec letter it gets put after the others and might be another couple of weeks before something happens on it again. You can avoid this by giving me complete forms the first time around!
Most recletters now get uploaded to web sites. They are going to ask for my address, email, sometimes my phone, and my title. So here you go (written a little bit in code so crawling search engines aren't grabbing my stuff all the time): have things sent to the office, my rm is 3409; use my berkeley-dot-edu email; use our local area code and add ahead of 972 dash 3339. My title is "Lecturer".
Definitely remind me of what classes (title or number, doesn’t matter, semester year) you have taken with me. And if I have written a letter in the past. This is SO helpful! I more or less know but that isn’t good enough for rec letters. I want 100% accuracy and double-triple checking (“Hmm I wonder if s/he also took a class with me in 2005, I better check all those rosters, too …”) is super time consuming.
Tell me in a few sentences what you plan to do with what you are applying for.
Include resumes, project essays, etc. if you wish and if you have them but in truth generally I am asked to write letters before the students have written such essays and resumes are only helpful off and on; it sort of depends on how well I already know that student and what they are applying for …. Make a judgment call but I don’t mind more info rather than less.
Include real contact info (cell? email? whatever it is) for those special days right around the time when a rec letter is due, in case we hit a last minute snag and I need to reach you QUICKLY.
Special request for students applying to graduate school (not law, business or medicine) and especially for those for whom I will be writing more than a couple of letters:
I write individual letters for each school to which you apply. This means each letter changes in at least two places. One is the actual land address of where you are applying. When the student doesn't give me information, I actually try to look it up online. This takes quite a while because I have to be absolutely certain I am getting the correct address, based on hints in the student's request. The second change is that each program has a unique name. Even in the case of Japanese literature that actual program you are applying for might benamed differently. Some web sites tell me what you are applying for, some don't. So, in the first example below, the student did not give me information and I just threw something together. In the second, the student did, and it just looks more convincing:
English Program in Korea
Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education
June 5, xxxx
To Whom It May Concern,
Mr. xxxx has asked that I write a letter of recommendation to be part of his application to your program.
second example (except usually it is just to an admissions committee, not a single person, and usually will include "Master's program" or "Ph.D. program"):
Jodi D. Jaques, Ph.D.
Counseling & Guidance Program
College of Education
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
March 30, xxxx
Dear Dr. Jaques,
Ms. xxxx has requested that I write a recommendation letter to accompany her application to the Cal Poly Counseling and Guidance Program.
*Web sites are slow, quirky, sometimes unreliable, often ask additional questions, are sometimes browser specific, and so on. I find that for a student applying to grad school, to complete all the websites (even if the letter is already finished) can take 2-4 hours. If you provide addresses for me, I can cut this time in half, which would be nice ...
It is the student’s choice whether or not to waive his or her right to read the letter that I write for them. I feel I write better letters when I don’t have to visualize “double readers” (how will the admissions committee interpret this sentence? how will the student interpret this same sentence?) I feel the prose is more natural and persuasive when I can treat the admissions committee as the king/queen to whom I am talking. Also, some faculty say that letters where students have not waived their rights are taken less seriously. I have no real proof of this one way or the other but it is something to keep in mind. Most forms and web sites tell me what you have done but you might want to include it in this email, too. JET does not ask for a statement on this. I write JET letters assuming you will not open the envelope before forwarding it to the institution.