LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Who to ask, How to ask and What to expect
How do I decide who to ask for a recommendation?
The application materials can really help you in choosing the correct person to write your letter. Some applications, for instance, may ask you to submit a letter that speaks to your academic ability. Obtaining a letter from a former professor who can speak on your academic achievements may be preferable to a former boss who may know more about your work style than your academic abilities.
If you need multiple recommendations
If your application requires more than two letters, it is wise to seek letters from people who can comment on your different strengths and comment on a diverse range of attributes. You want to paint a complete picture of yourself for the selection committees. For example, one letter could talk about your outstanding leadership skills, one could address your passion for your research project or honors thesis and one could comment on your time as a volunteer at the local homeless shelter.
How and when to ask for a recommendation.
Make and appointment
Do not stop someone in the hallway on the way to class and ask if she can write you a letter of recommendation. Make an appointment with the individual to discuss whatever you are applying for and how she can help you. Ask them if they would be able to write a strong letter of recommendation for you.
Let each recommender know who your other recommenders are, so that they can write letters that can complement each other and not repeat each other.
What to provide the individual
Prepare a packet of concise information about the scholarship/award for which you are applying. It is also helpful to provide them with:
Be prepared to remind the writer of an upcoming deadline. But so not to be a pest.
Finally, be sure to write your recommender a letter of thanks and let them know what happens.
What if they say No
How to respond
If someone you ask seems to be saying "no" to you, you should ask someone else. The person may be inappropriate, too busy or may not know you well enough to write you a good letter.
If they do not directly say "no", but respond in a way that makes you uncertain about the strength of their support letter, gracefully accept that, thank them for their honesty and ask someone else.