Many of you are probably in the process of arranging your recommendations, whether “arranging” means making that original ask, or pestering your professors to submit a promised letter before November 15. In either case, you might want some tips, and there are plenty of them on the blog. I encourage you to read through our past posts for suggestions. You’ll find advice for you, the applicant, on what you can do to ensure you’ll receive an effective recommendation (like this post, for example) and there are also suggestions for your recommenders, which you could link to if you email them.
Beyond that, instead of rewriting what I’ve written before, I’ll share an anecdote. On Monday, we were discussing applications for January 2018 enrollment. There was one case of an applicant who hadn’t done very well as an undergrad. The applicant’s professor did the student a huge favor by explaining the student’s trajectory through the undergraduate program. Suddenly, everything was clear to us and we no longer felt hesitant to offer admission. I encourage you to follow this applicant’s example and ensure that your letters of recommendation advance your story and help you make your case for admission. It takes some work on your part, but it’s effort that can have a big impact.