I'm happy to write recommendation letters for graduate study (or post-Ph.D. opportunities). It's quite nice to see my students continue on in the field.
I'll try to find substantive things to say. The more closely we've worked together, the more informative my letter can be.
If you have done research with me, then writing a letter for you is the least I can do in return! I'll say as much as I can, describing the technical scope of our project and your specific contributions to it. I will also try to sketch what it's like to work with you—what you bring to the table technically, how fast you get results, what you're like in person, and perhaps some thoughts about what kind of advising situation might work best for you in future. It's really helpful if we've had at least one publication, because then I will have seen you do all the parts of putting a research paper together, and can testify to those skills and brag about your success.
If you have been a student in my classes, then I can describe what you did in class. I'll provide some standard text describing the class and noting that it's a difficult class with with mixed grad and undergrad students. I can say something about your homework and exam grades and where you ranked in the class, but that's pretty boring. If you did a class project or went overboard with extra credit on some assignment, I can describe what you did and how mature it was. If you had great comments and questions during lecture, at office hours, or on Piazza, that will be the most interesting thing for me to mention!
If you have been a CA for one of my classes, I'll discuss that as well. If students benefited from your teaching, your office hours, or your help on Piazza, I'd want to write about that.
In some cases, I may be able to customize the letter to specific schools, if I think that there's a Ph.D. advisor who would be a really good match for you. Usually this doesn't seem necessary, though.
Warning: If you have only been involved with me through my classes, then my letter probably won't be enough to get you into grad school. It will just be some supporting evidence. Your main letter should be from someone who knows what you're capable of outside the classroom.
As a matter of policy, I will only send a letter if it is confidential. So you should waive your right to read the letter. This assures the recipient that my recommendation will be honest.
Please give me a month's notice if possible, so that I can find a block of time to fit this in. It would be useful for you to send me the following materials as soon as convenient. We could also meet to discuss your application, but ideally you'd send me at least some of these items first.
Your statement of purpose, so I know what degree you're seeking and why, and what you want to work on. If you send a good version early enough, then I may be able to provide feedback in person or electronically. Here's some advice that I endorse for CS applicants (there's plenty more online).
Your transcript, so I can comment on your overall preparation.
A list of things that I shouldn't forget about you. This isn't required. But it's wise: if you've done 5 great things with me, there's a risk that only 3 of them will come to mind when I go to write the letter. Especially if you are such a wizard that you made something look easy and I never even knew how hard it was. Or if you helped other students make progress. So please do jog my memory—just send me an email or doc with some ideas for what I might talk about. Of course, I will write my own letter in my own words! So don't worry about the phrasing!
A list of places you're applying, with deadlines. If you let me know about this early enough, I can suggest other places. (E.g., check out the full Answer Wiki here.) Most great advisors don't get enough strong applications: applicants only think of a few schools they've heard of, but there are great advisors scattered all over the country and beyond the country, just waiting to hear from you.
Reminders as needed. Once I've written your letter, it is pretty easy for me to find and deal with the past and future auto-emails from various schools that ask me to upload it. However, profs have a lot to deal with every day. I could miss a request somehow, or fail to see it because of Gmail's spam filter! So please pay attention to whether I've fulfilled all requests, and feel free to drop me a brief reminder if needed. I won't be insulted, and you shouldn't panic.
To understand how Ph.D. applications are read (at least around here), check out my answer here.
|Jason Eisner - firstname.lastname@example.org (suggestions welcome)||Last Mod $Date: 2016/12/19 23:18:31 $|