Although a letter of recommendation might not be a decisive point in your application process, asking your tutor for one can seem an intimidating experience, which makes you anxious. However, the good news is that you can get not only the best letter of recommendation that will support your scholarship application but also learn how to handle some of the crucial steps in your life. Of course, under the condition that you follow some rules of etiquette. Ready to go? Take a breath and read our tips before you proceed.
The first thing you should understand is that writing a reference letter is part of a teacher’s job, which most teachers know and honor. More so, they often take pride in being able to help their student lay a solid basis for their future academic career. Teachers are also aware that students often do not know how to best approach their professors, so some teachers even post general guidelines on their websites to make this process more structured and manageable.
Time management is a key to success: do not try to overburden your teacher with your request at the last moment. Email him/her at least one or two months in advance and ask your teacher to meet in person and discuss what you need. This approach allows enough time and flexibility both for you. Thus, you will be tuned to the upcoming discussion and understand your needs.
Who to choose is also an important question to consider. The good tone suggests that you should choose teachers as your referees based on the following criteria: How well did I do in this teacher’s course? How well does the teacher know me? Will the teacher’s reputation add weight to my application before the admission committee?
Since tutors are expected to rank the past and future abilities of their students, it makes no sense to solicit for a reference from someone who cannot say that your talents and work stand out. For self-explanatory reasons, successful letter conveys the message that a teacher knows a student well. Finally, a teacher who is well known among members of the selection committee can surely add benefit to your application.
What to say is another crucial piece of information to devise. You need to clearly tell your teacher that you are seeking a strong letter of recommendation. So, make sure the teacher knows who you are and understands the time limits when it is required. You will ease this task for the teacher if you provide a package of information that includes:
– An updated CV or resume
– A copy of your academic history
– Any form that your referee might ask you to fill out
– A sheet with your personal contact details
– A letter that reiterates who you are and what position you seek to pursue.
Thanking your teacher is not only an important part of etiquette but also a nice means for you to express your gratitude for your teacher’s time and efforts to help you. Be professional and polite. Moreover, who knows, you might need to call your teacher for the feedback over again?
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