When should I approach letter writers? What if I plan to take some time off before I go to graduate school? Professors and supervisors are generally pleased to write on your behalf; however, they are usually involved in many activities. Faculty are especially busy during the months of November and December. Be considerate of your letter writers’ time and approach them at least two months before you need the letter. If you plan to take some time off before going to graduate school, don’t wait until you want to apply to graduate school to ask for letters. Your professors could be on sabbatical, or you may not be fresh in their minds anymore. So, ask professors for a "general" letter of recommendation before you leave Cal and place their letters in a safe place, like the Career Center’s Letter Service. When you are ready to apply to graduate school, contact professors again, and ask them to update your letters.
What information do my letter writers need to write good letters? You can help your letter writers write enlightening letters by giving each of them a portfolio comprised of:
~ A cover note that includes: Information on how to get in touch with you in case they need to reach you. What you would like emphasized in each letter. A list of schools to which you are applying, and due dates, with the earliest due date at the top. Any other information that is relevant. Open and close your note with thanks and acknowledgement that the letter writer’s time is valuable and that this letter is important to your professional future.
~ Recommendation forms - To make it easy for your letter writer to complete forms in a timely manner, complete the following: Applicant information typed in. Recommender’s name, title, contact info (telephone, fax, address etc) typed in.
~ Your unofficial (telebears) transcripts (note courses you took with them).
~ A draft of your statement of purpose.).
~ A copy of your best work in the course (with instructor comments on it), lab evaluations, projects, etc.).
~ Your resume.).
~ Stamped and addressed envelopes to send letters and forms directly to the Career Center Letter Service or schools of your choice.