Letters of Recommendation
Career Services maintains files for students and alumni containing letters of recommendation. The first letter we receive for a student creates his/her file. These letters can then be sent to employers and graduate schools at the student's request.
Requesting a Recommendation Letter from Faculty or Employers
When requesting that a professor/employer write a recommendation on your behalf, we recommend using our Recommendation Waiver Form. This form includes a waiver of access which, once signed, indicates that the letter must remain confidential. Letters can be placed in your file without a signed waiver form. Graduate schools may assume letters without a waiver have not been kept confidential. Confidentiality is almost always required by graduate schools. Ensure excellent letters of recommendation by providing your recommenders with the data they need -- your resume, research papers, and transcripts -- and be open about asking them if they feel they know your capabilities well enough to write a strong letter on your behalf. Give recommenders a deadline -- usually 1-2 weeks before you need the letter, to allow for any possible delay.
Who Should Write Your Letter?
In choosing your recommenders for grad school application, remember that above all, graduate admissions committees are evaluating your potential as a student and scholar. This is also true for professional schools; in trying to choose between a professor and an employer, most admissions committees choose the professor. Letters are best if they are from people who know you well and are in a position to evaluate your work, rather than from those who may have a higher title. Cursory letters from significant people (e.g. a letter from the Senator in whose office you interned) are often much less useful in making your case to the admissions committee than letters from people who actually know your daily work (e.g. the legislative assistant you actually worked for). This is especially true for law school and other professional schools.
Know the Contents of Your File
It is up to you to know what is in your Recommendation file. You can log into SwatCareers at any time to check the contents of your file. All letters received are recorded on your Profile under Academics. To obtain your SwatCareers login information or have a staff member check the contents of your file, contact Career Services. Letters of recommendation will always be kept on file and you may continue to add to your file after you graduate. Be mindful, however, that letters lose some usefulness after five years or so. Should future needs for these letters arise, you may want to ask the writers to update the recommendation or get new ones from current employers or professors.
Releasing Letters From Your File
A written request must be used to have letters released from your file. We have prepared a Recommendation Release Form to simplify the request process. Send this signed form to the Career Services office for processing. Without the completed form, we need the following information:
- your name and class year
- name(s) of the recommender(s)
- name of the organization(s) to whom the letter(s) should be sent
- mailing address(es)
- your signature authorizing release of letters
Requests MUST include a signature. Requests are accepted in person, by mail or fax. Email requests can not be accepted. Requests are usually processed in two working days. It is not our practice to express ship or fax letters of recommendation. Please allow enough time for your request to be processed to arrive in good time.