Getting the best out of recommendation letters

Perla Lara, Photo Editor

Biology Professor Dr. Chace Tydell was the speaker for the how to get great recommendation letters workshop on Tuesday Nov. 24. After the workshop Tydell sat with the students and answered specific questions they had. Photo credit: Perla Lara
Biology Professor Dr. Chace Tydell was the speaker for the how to get great recommendation letters workshop on Tuesday Nov. 24. After the workshop Tydell sat with the students and answered specific questions they had. Photo credit: Perla Lara

Biology professor Dr. C. Chace Tydell explained the process of getting a great letter of recommendation from college professors in her workshop held on Tuesday Nov. 24 titled ‘How to get great letters of recommendation without hanging out with professors.’

Biology major Emmanuel Cuevas was one of 10 students who attended the workshop he said “I’m going to start applications next year. I just wanted to understand and know how to ask the teachers, how to go about it […] the overall how should I start.”

According to Tydell the start for a great recommendation letter is being memorable.

She said “make yourself a memorable student by every couple of weeks whatever question you were thinking of asking about when you were taking notes but you didn’t want to interrupt the lecture to ask it every two to three weeks

“Go up to talk to the professor and just ask him that question. You might get a one paragraph answer if you do that every two to three weeks for the course of the semester you become someone who is known to that professor and you’re going to get much better letters of recommendation.”

Cuevas learned that “sometimes email is a lot better [when asking for a letter of recommendation] because it is not demanding the teacher can open it whenever they want. I would usually talk to them in person but since Dr. Tydell said its better in e-mail I’m going to start sending more e-mails.”

Another recommendation Tydell gave was to keep a document file for each of the professors students interact with.

The document would be a record of the interactions between the student and the professor, any question asked and any subject discussed would be noted.

The document would be a way to refresh the student’s and the professor’s memories of one another.

She also stressed the importance of including the question “do you feel you know me well enough to write a good letter of recommendation for this internship?” That question gives professors an easy way to say no.

Tydell explained that a mediocre or generic recommendation letter does not help students.

Also “being the quiet kid in the back that gets straight A’s is not enough for a good letter [of recommendation].

Once a professor has agreed to write a letter students should find time to stop by and see the professor before they write the letter. Students should bring a folder with their name on the outside which contains the following:

  • Unofficial transcripts.
  • Info about the school, internship, or scholarship the letter is for.
  • A cover letter or statement of purpose.
  • Resume.
  • Bring up specific situations that should be emphasized in the letter.
  • And remember to say ‘thank you’

Tydell has also made her entire power point presentation available online

She also has a sample of what an email requesting a letter of recommendation should be like on her website