Are you a Carleton student headed off to graduate school, looking for a job, looking for an internship, or engaging in some other venture for which you'd like me to write a recommendation letter for you? Are you a high school student who has done a summer program at Carleton, and are looking for a recommendation letter for college? Fantastic! Talk to me first (email or call if off you're campus) about what the letter is for, so that I can understand what the letter is for. Once we've communicated, here's what I need to write the letter:
Can be unofficial. The reason I like to have these is so that I can get a sense of what your overall course history looks like.
- Resume/curriculum vitae if you have one.
If you're applying for a job, I assume that you've already put one of these together. If you're applying for graduate school or for college, you may not. Don't bother to construct one for me for purposes of the recommendation letter, but if you have one, it helps me to see it. Sometimes I can paint a broader picture of you in the letter if I know more about what you've done.
- A short description of what you think I should include in the letter.
It's entirely possible that there's something awesome that I know about you that has slipped my mind, and I'd hate to forget to put that in the letter. You are hereby licensed to be completely egotistical, as that's the role I'm asking you to take when putting this together. I can always choose to leave out something you say if I think it isn't relevant, but I can't put in something that you don't put in if I don't know about it or if I've forgotten about it.
- Permission for me to include private information in the letter, such as courses taken with me and grades.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) says that I need your permission to share info that isn't public, such as what courses you took with me, and grades that you earned. Please grant me such permission. According to the Carleton registrar, there are two ways of doing so. One approach is to fill out, sign, scan, and send me via email this FERPA release form. The other approach is to simply send me an email from a Carleton email account, and indicate somewhere in the email that you grant me permission to write you a recommendation letter. The catch with this second approach is that it must be a carleton.edu email account. If you don't have current access to a carleton.edu account you'll have to go with the release form.
If you'd rather not grant me such permission, that's also an option. I can still write a letter with general impressions I have about you, but I can't reveal anything about what courses you've taken with me or how you did in those courses.
Get me the above material as soon as you reasonably can; the sooner you can to get this to me, the more time that I have to write the letter.
Once you have figured out where you are applying (you may not have known this yet when you submitted me the above materials), please get me:
- Any materials necessary to submit the recommendation letters.
Most graduate and undergraduate schools handle recommendation letters electronically where they will automatically send me an email with a link to follow, so there's nothing you need to supply me with in that case. If the school you're applying to is using paper-based letters, on the other hand, I'll need the appropriate forms from you. For a job application, you might need to supply me with an email address or a postal mail address to send the letter. If I need to send anything by postal mail, please supply addressed and stamped envelopes, as that just makes it easier for me to send everything out.
- A summary page.
Get me a listing of all the places you want me to send a letter, what I need to do, and what the deadlines are. Sorting these in order of deadline makes it easy for me to get the earliest ones out first.
Finally, here's your end of the bargain: after you've heard back, tell me how it turns out. Who accepted you, and who turned you down (their loss)? This helps me learn how to advise future students.
Thanks, and good luck!