Step 1: Calculate Number of Letters Needed



Updated June 8, 2022

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Generally, a university would require either two or three letters of recommendation. In most cases, it is two. Assuming you plan on applying to eight universities, that comes to 16–20 recommendations. However, that does not mean you need to find 16–20 recommenders, since a professor would be willing to shell out more than one. From our experience, professors provide three on average, and maybe more depending on the strength of your relationship.

statsA back-of-the-napkin calculation says that you would need between four and six recommenders to apply to eight universities.

Now, let’s stop assuming and start putting this data in the Dream Tracker.

actionNavigate to the sheet titled LORs, add your list of universities, and fill in the column that asks you for the number of recommendations needed for each.

Step 2: Create List of Potential Recommenders

As mentioned earlier, it has to be someone who you spent a significant period of time with. The six months mentioned is a good standard to keep in mind, but it can also be an employer with whom you interned for a period of three months.

danger Although we have been using the term professor as a catch-all for people who can recommend you, it doesn’t have to be someone within the realms of academia. In fact, it would help if you can get it from someone who works at a company (a manager, or maybe a CEO?), so your profile looks well-rounded.

Since we decided you might need between four and six recommenders, be sure to have a list of at least six so that you have a buffer for people who might say no.

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