College is an experience, one you gain many life lessons from. One of the most difficult lessons (but one with a quick fix) that I learned, was how to ask for a letter of recommendation.
When I first arrived to college, I thought I was ready to face almost anything. I went to all of my study sessions, enrolled myself in tutoring when I needed help with my statistics class, but one thing I was not ready for, was asking my professors for a letter of recommendation.
It is honestly not that hard to do, but with the proper guidelines, it may make having one written for you an easier task for your professors.
Here are some things I learned along the way during my academic career.
- Go to office hours, it is never to early in the year (or your academic career) to build a relationship with your professors and TAs
*Hint: if you do not have an academic relationship established with your professors, TAs are great liaisons to help establish one. Typically, TAs are graduate students that are mentored by your professors. If your professors do not know you that well but if your TA does, they can always give you a suggestion on how to approach them with this task and drop a good word to their mentors.
- When asking a professor for a letter of recommendation, schedule a preliminary meeting first. This lets you see if they are available to write you a letter, have an interest in the same field you need a letter of rec for, and incase you need to think of a back-up plan if they cannot write you one.
- Once you schedule a meeting and all goes well, you are ready for round two. Schedule a second meeting and have an academic resume ready. This should include your GPA, academic achievements, internships, volunteer work, anything that will help your professor get some insight on who you are as a student, your work ethic and anything they can highlight in their letter of rec.
*Hint: this also helps your professor if you have not had a chance to interact with them enough for them to know you on a personal level (or at all, but are willing to write you a letter of recommendation)
- If you are not close to any of your professors or if you are, but through some outside organization, give them a writing sample or recent project you have conducted to give them insight onto who you are as a student. Typically, if the letter of recommendation is for a scholarship or grad school app, these are the exact materials that need to be highlighted in a letter of rec.
- After your TA/professor has taken the time to recommend you, make sure you thank them. You never know if you might need their help again later and it is a great habit to appreciate people that have helped you further your career, academic or otherwise.
By Maggy Murillo, Be Preppy’s Latinx/Hispanic Outreach Intern
Need some more college tips? Be sure to check out our podcast Woke, Wise, College Kids.