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Requesting a Letter of Recommendation

From President Lindsay:

I enjoy writing letters of recommendation for Gordon students when appropriate. It is gratifying for me to help them pursue their academic and professional ambitions. Please carefully consider the following before making this request:

First, how well do I know you? In order to write on your behalf, I need to have had substantive interaction with you. Have you and I had occasion to get to know one another well? That is vital for the process to move forward.

Presuming our interactions have been positive, I ask that you supply the following information at least one month in advance of the letter’s due date:

  • The suggested length and requirements of the letter. Are there specific items or questions that need to be addressed by me? If you do not know, find out before asking me for a letter. I will have to know what is required in the recommendation before agreeing to write it.
  • The date by which the letter must be mailed and/or received.
  • The name and address of the recipient. I need the correct address and the name of the specific person evaluating your application, even if the letter is to be emailed or uploaded online. Without a name and address, I cannot write the greeting or the address block that is standard on all business communication.
  • Whether this recommendation is to be completed online or mailed in hard copy format.
  • Your resume or curriculum vitae.
  • A copy of the application materials you have already completed (e.g., short answer questions, essays, and the like).
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript.

In addition, please provide your input on these important questions, which enhance the effectiveness of the recommendation:

  • What are five attributes (intelligence, work ethic, etc.) you want the letter to stress?
  • What are the top three honors you have received in your life?
  • What is your current major and your current grade point average (overall and within your major)?
  • Why do you want to participate in the program for which I am recommending you (in one or two paragraphs)?

Finally, as a reminder: It is standard courtesy to send a handwritten thank you note to anyone who writes a recommendation on your behalf. You should also make a point to let your recommender know the outcome of your application as soon as you find out—whether you are successful or not. Doing both of these shows that you are grateful for the recommendation, and it is simply the right thing to do. Good luck!