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Biology Students
Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Most professors are willing to write letters of recommendation.
Here are a few tips to follow:

1. Get to know the professor and allow your professor to get to know you. You can do this by taking advantage of office hours and by electing to take courses that have limited enrollments. Students generally do not take advantage of these. In general, upper-level lab courses or upper-level courses with laboratory component, and seminar courses (BIOL 480) are good options.

2. Be sure to write your name on the form or make sure your name appears somewhere on the material you give the recommender.

3. Indicate the course(s) you took with the recommender

4. Indicate the deadline for receipt of the recommendation. Give ample time.

5. Include a stamped, addressed envelope for each letter that is to be sent off-campus. Recommendations to be sent on-campus (e.g., to the Pre-Health Advising Office or the Career Development Center) do not require postage stamps.

6. It is usually helpful to the recommender if you include a short statement of career goals and what you have done (i.e., courses, research, teaching, and extracurricular activities) to reach those goals

7. For more tips, please click here (.pdf,48kb).

Should You Waive Your Right To Review Your Letters? Think carefully about your choice...

If you do waive your right, the admissions committee will be more likely to accept as true a positive recommendation. If you do NOT waive your right, the admissions committee could be unsure of the sincerity of a positive recommendation. It might suspect that the recommender omitted negative comments to avoid a lawsuit or other hassles. If you assume that each of your references would write the same letter in either case, you would definitely come out ahead by waiving your right. (The admissions committee would be even more suspicious if you waived your right for some, but not all, of your letters.) Our Premedical and Health Professions Office will accept a letter only with students' waiver of the right to review it.

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Last Updated: 2/23/15