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Network with Possible Recommenders

Purpose: Scholars will network with faculty, staff, and professionals to request a letter of recommendation for graduate school applications.

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The Intimidation of Asking

This can be one of the most intimidating steps of the application process. Trust us, you will be ok! Recommendation letters are a great way for the admissions committee to know who you are as a person, beyond just a GPA and test score. Here is a stepwise approach towards requesting a strong letter:


Step 1 – Assess your Needs

Know how many recommendations and the type of recommenders your program of interest requires for their particular application. Criteria for recommendations vary by department so make sure you know what is required before you make an action plan. Some programs may mandate that one of your recommenders be a faculty member who can attest to your research skills etc.


Step 2 – Create a List

Formulate a list of faculty and non-faculty members you can request recommendation letters from. Make sure you select people who can write a strong recommendation letter that attests to your good character, academic strong suits, and research skills. Maybe you took classes or worked on a research project with them. Have back up recommenders in case your first choices cannot write a letter for you.

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Networking According to Your Relationship 

Networking with your possible recommenders can look different depending on your relationship with your recommenders. Since you are getting closer to starting your applications, you need to get organized and know what types of recommenders you should focus on with your networking.

Start by gathering information on the number and the types of recommendations required for each graduate school application. Proceed to create a list of faculty and non-faculty members you have strong relationships with and can speak highly of you. Plan for the unexpected; make sure to include back up recommenders.

As you create the list think:

  1. Do they know me beyond a grade?
  2. Can they attest to my research and/or coursework skills?
  3. Can they speak positively about my performance?
  4. How should you go about building a stronger relationship?

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Strategies for Selecting and Asking Recommenders

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Suggested Assignment

Suggested Assignment

Assignment #25

Refine your List of Possible Recommendation Letters

Purpose: Scholars will assess the strength of their relationships with faculty members and compile a list of potential recommenders. Feel free to visit Mastering – Part 1’s Securing Letters of Recommendation. For assistance schedule a visit with AAP Peer Advisors.

Download Assignment: 4b_activity_two


Save Your Work: Complete the assignment by typing in the boxes in the PDF below and downloading the document for your records.

Instructions for navigation

Prepare for graduate school now by marking this topic complete: click the “Mark Complete” button below in the bottom left hand corner to keep track of the topics you’ve completed. Then, click the “Next Topic” button below in the bottom right hand corner to move onto the next topic within the lesson.

If you are following the application elements curriculum, follow the Quick Learn icon to the right to the next topic in Letters of Recommendation.

Note: For a refresher on the importance of faculty mentorships consult Securing Letters of Recommendation topic in the Exploring lesson.

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Quick Learn Letters of Recommendation