You might have begun reading this chapter thinking, what’s there to learn about getting a letter of recommendation? We hope you feel differently now. A letter of recommendation, when obtained from the right person, can go a long way in getting you admitted. It shows the admissions committee who you are from a third person’s standpoint, as opposed to your own.
So begin to note down the list of recommenders based on the Venn diagram we proposed: how long they’ve known you, how well they know you, and how established they are in their role. The first two factors should take precedence over the third.
As much as you can, approach your recommender in person when you ask for the letter since it is a huge time commitment for them, and not something they enjoy writing. You can make that process easier by being prepared and sending a document with information about your achievements and experiences. A nicely worded email will go a long way. Also, don’t be shy to follow up with them. Give a buffer of ten days after your first email to follow up if you haven’t heard back.
Finally, we strongly recommend that you waive your right to view the letter. If you have done a good job choosing your recommenders, there shouldn’t be a need to view it in the first place. This letter must be written with confidentiality and trust. Once all the letters have been submitted, take the time to thank them for their effort. You can also go the extra mile to keep them in the loop as you begin getting your results, thus continuing to grow your relationship.