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How should college students reach out to professors for letters of recommendation ?

I am a second-year psychology student and while I have received letters of recommendation from staff, asking professors seems a bit daunting. Is there a way to ask that would be received better? When applying to multiple opportunities is there a limit to how much time so should ask them to submit their recommendation?

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Genry’s Answer

This resource could be a real game-changer for you - https://www.liveabout.com/sample-college-references-2062901. It's packed with helpful tips.
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Rafael’s Answer

When reaching out to professors for letters of recommendation, it's important to choose professors who know you well and can speak to your abilities and work. Ask in advance, providing necessary information like your resume and academic goals. Personalize your request by mentioning specific courses or projects you worked on together. Clearly communicate the deadlines and follow up politely if needed. Professors are usually willing to help, so don't hesitate to ask!
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Cory’s Answer

Great advice above!

I would offer a piece of advice from personal experience using a different slew on things.

1.) A good reference doesn’t have to be a professor in your field of study though a reference in your field of study should be easier to get and would hold more weight. Meaning a good reference is better than no reference so don’t wait until your junior year to cultivate a professional relationship with a professor. As noted above people who know you best will advocate for you most whether in or out of your field of study. References tend to speak to character, work ethic, attitude, punctuality and other soft skills that some one in your field of study can speak to but may not speak to as they focus on your fields technical aspects.

2.) For those ,like me, who may not have had relationships with professors cause being on campus took away from working your real job, a good reference doesn’t have to be in your field of study or from campus. Most of my references were work references and these again tend to be better than academic references for a working position. For those staying in research or academics then it goes without saying that those in academics are your best work references.

3.) for those who have zero academic or working references, I would recommend you find a way to get one. Volunteer at church or a non profit group, approach your boss at work, ask neighbors, etc…. It may take a small job for a neighbor to get the non profit position but all of this should end up being captured in your resume and used as apart of your story. Cause commitment and persistence are what employers need most.
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April’s Answer

Hello, and great question. I would begin by building relationships with some your professors throughout the course. Schedule a check-in with them at the beginning of your class and discuss some of your interests. Continue to reach out. At the midpoint of the course, follow up and ask if they wouldn’t mind being a reference for you. Stay in contact and share your progress and thank them for helping you accomplish your goals.
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Sujin’s Answer

Hello!

When asking professors to write you a letter of recommendation (LOR), here are some tips:
1. Ask a professor who knows you and you know well. For example, you have talked to them about their class, the materials, a project, career options, etc. Or, a class that you did well in or really enjoyed.
2. Provide adequate time for them to write you a good LOR. You don't want someone to just throw something together. You want to give them enough time to write you a strong LOR. e.g. I would provide at least 3-4 weeks.
3. Provide some background information such as a copy of your resume and a summary/description of what you are applying for and, if applicable, the type of candidate the program is looking for. You can also share why you are interested in the program and why you think you're a good candidate.
4. Include directions on where to send the LOR - e.g. email address or mailing address and deadline. If they have to mail in the LOR, consider paying for the postage.

Usually, it is okay to ask one professor to write 2 or 3 letters. After, it can be a big ask. So, in this case, you can ask more than one professor.
I agree that it can be daunting to ask but professors are used to having students ask them to write LORs.

Good luck!

Sujin
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Itrat’s Answer

Hello Jade !
Reaching out to professors for letters of recommendation can be a critical part of the college application or job search process. Here are some steps college students can take to effectively request letters of recommendation from professors:

Choose the Right Professors: Select professors who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities, work ethic, and character. Ideally, choose professors from classes where you performed well and actively participated.

Give Ample Notice: Reach out to professors well in advance of the deadline for submitting letters of recommendation. Aim to contact them at least several weeks before you need the letter, if possible, to give them enough time to write a thoughtful and personalized recommendation.

Use Professional Communication: Craft a polite and professional email or message to request the letter of recommendation. Address the professor respectfully, use proper grammar and punctuation, and clearly explain the purpose of your email.

Provide Context: Remind the professor of who you are and which courses you took with them. Mention specific projects, assignments, or discussions that you found particularly engaging or where you demonstrated your skills and abilities.

Be Clear and Specific: Clearly outline the details of the recommendation you need, including the purpose of the letter (e.g., graduate school application, internship application), any specific requirements or prompts provided by the institution or employer, and the deadline for submitting the letter.

Offer Additional Information: Provide the professor with any additional materials that may be helpful in writing the letter, such as your resume, personal statement, or academic transcripts. This can give them more context and help them tailor the recommendation to your specific goals and achievements.

Follow Up Appropriately: If you don't receive a response to your initial email, or if the professor agrees to write the letter but hasn't submitted it by the agreed-upon deadline, politely follow up with a friendly reminder. Be respectful of their time and workload, but also advocate for yourself and the importance of the letter.

Express Gratitude: Once the professor has submitted the letter of recommendation, be sure to express your gratitude and appreciation for their assistance. A sincere thank-you email or handwritten note can go a long way in showing your appreciation for their support.

By following these steps and approaching the request for letters of recommendation with professionalism and courtesy, college students can increase their chances of receiving strong and supportive recommendations from their professors.
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Mahi’s Answer

Requesting letters of recommendation can be a delicate process, and it's important to approach it professionally. Here are some tips for college students on how to reach out to professors for letters of recommendation:

Plan Ahead:

Request letters well in advance, ideally several weeks or even months before the deadline. This allows your professors ample time to write thoughtful recommendations.
Choose the Right Professors:

Select professors who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities, work ethic, and character. Ideally, choose those in whose classes you excelled or with whom you had meaningful interactions.
Personalize Your Request:

Avoid generic requests. In your email or in-person request, remind the professor who you are, mention the specific class or project you were involved in, and explain why you are seeking their recommendation.
Be Clear About Your Goals:

Clearly state the purpose of the recommendation (e.g., graduate school application, job application, scholarship). This helps the professor tailor the letter to your specific needs.
Provide Necessary Information:

Include a current resume, a draft of your statement of purpose (if applicable), and any other relevant information that can help the professor write a strong, specific recommendation.
Request in Writing:

If possible, make your initial request in writing (via email). This gives the professor time to consider the request before responding.
Ask Politely:

Use polite language and make your request respectfully. Remember that writing a recommendation takes time and effort, so express your gratitude for their consideration.
Offer an Opt-Out:

Include a statement that gives the professor the option to decline if they feel they cannot write a strong recommendation. This shows respect for their time and honesty.
Follow Up Politely:

If you don't receive a response within a reasonable timeframe, consider sending a polite follow-up email. Professors can be busy, and a gentle reminder may be helpful.
Provide Submission Details:

If the recommendation needs to be submitted online or by mail, provide clear instructions and deadlines. Make it as easy as possible for the professor to fulfill your request.
Express Gratitude:

Regardless of the outcome, express gratitude for their time and effort. If they agree to write the recommendation, follow up with a thank-you email or a handwritten note.
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Deborah’s Answer

Approach professors respectfully, highlighting specific experiences and providing ample notice, typically at least a month in advance, and be mindful of their time constraints when applying to multiple opportunities.
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