Sample Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School from Employer - Free Download
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Letters of Recommendation for Graduate School___________
Copyright © 2002-2004 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reproduced with permission.
Writing letters of recommendation and its relationship to teaching
Writing letters of recommendation is a skill that will be of great importance throughout your
teaching career, and perhaps should be viewed as an almost integral part of your teaching
experience. Students in your sections or tutorials who have had a positive experience - in terms
of what they have learned, or the work they have produced - are likely to come to you for a letter
of recommendation. Indeed, an abundance of requests can be taken as an indication that you
are a good teacher and have an ability to establish a rapport with your students. In our view,
good letter writers deserve considerable recognition for the contribution that they make. (If you
have written a large number of letters, you might even consider making a note of that when
asked by a potential hiring department about your teaching skills and responsibilities.)
The contents of a letter of recommendation
l. In simplest terms, a letter of recommendation is a letter that makes a statement of support for
a candidate. If, after doing a careful review of a candidate's strengths and weaknesses, you
cannot write a supportive letter, it is important to have a candid discussion with the student.
2. Beyond that simple definition, a letter of recommendation should also present a well-
documented evaluation, providing sufficient evidence and information to help a selection
committee in making its decision.
3. A letter of recommendation should also address the specific purpose for which it is written.
For most applications, a letter of recommendation will need to discuss both scholarly capabilities
and personal character - although the balance between the two will vary, depending upon the
nature of the application. For example, at one end of the scale, a letter for an applicant for
graduate study in the arts and sciences should focus primarily on the scholarly, while at the
other end, a letter for an applicant for a non-academic position should discuss a broader range
of qualities and experiences - including extracurricular or work experience as well. As a further
example of matching a letter with its purpose, a letter for an applicant for a fellowship with a
specific project should discuss the validity and feasibility of the project, as well as the
candidate's qualifications for fulfilling the project. The letter should pay close attention to the
language of the fellowship announcement.
4. A letter of recommendation can also be used to explain some weakness or ambiguity in a
student's record. If appropriate - and probably after consulting the student - you might wish to
mention a family illness, financial hardship, or other factor.
5. For the content of a well-documented letter, the following are further suggestions (see also
the samples in the final section):
a. You should promptly identify yourself and the basis of your knowledge of the student: Were
you a Teaching Fellow in a tutorial or small seminar for department concentrators How often
did it meet, how many students how many papers Do you also know the student through
some other capacity Has your acquaintance been sustained over a number of years Writing
the letter on department letterhead is a further form of identification.