This is the time of year in which we receive a lot of requests for advice on preparing your application. I’ve written on this theme in the past, and I figured it’s helpful to hear a variety of perspectives from time to time. As such, I’ve asked the rest of the Admissions team to chime in with their advice on various pieces of the application. We’ll start today with Yaritza’s thoughts on letters of recommendation:
Recommendation letters are a vital part of any application because they give our Admissions Committee insight about who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Reading your personal statement allows us to understand your perspective on where you are and how our program will help you achieve your professional goals, but recommenders can support your claims through their experience working with you in the classroom and/or the workplace.
We believe having one professional and one academic recommendation makes for a great balance in your application; however, we understand that who writes your recommendations will depend on your individual situation. For instance, it’s possible that you may be far removed from your last academic program or you may be unable to contact a previous instructor to request an academic recommendation. Perhaps you just started a new job opportunity and don’t feel comfortable asking your new supervisor to write a letter for you. That’s OK! What is most important to keep in mind is that these letters should come from individuals who can honestly, critically, and positively speak to your skills, character, and academic potential.
Another thing to keep in mind when asking for letters of recommendation is to inform your recommenders about your educational intentions. You want your recommenders to write with an understanding of why this program is a good fit for you and your career goals. Make sure that they can speak to the specific program and other key pieces of information that make you a strong candidate. Additionally, remind them to write in the correct name of the school and degree program!
Ultimately, find people you know and trust. Recommendations are crucial in helping our Committee connect the dots of your application materials and get to know you better. So, ask those who you know can speak about you with vigor.