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Letters of recommendation

  1. Dec 3, 2006 #1
    I'm just starting out in my undergraduate education, and I'm wondering. When is it a good time to ask for letters of recommendation. should I ask any professor I get to know for a letter?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2006 #2
    You can, but they tend to be less valuable from people who know you less well. You have a while before you will be asking, so you can really grow some relationships first.

    My tactic was as follows: one recommendation from someone who was well acquainted with my skills in research. This was most important, since this was my real job at the university as a grad student. My second was from someone I had worked with teaching labs. This would be my immediate work at the university, so I felt they would value knowing I could do this. Finally I chose a professor who had taught me to describe my experience in class as a student.

    Worked for me. I'm sure there are lots of other ways to do it as well.
  4. Dec 3, 2006 #3


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    Yeah, I would say they should start coming in 3rd year.

    Talk to your profs in 3rd year, and share your knowledge. Show them you know something. understand it and are passionate about it. That can get you letters of recommendation.

    Also, through research too.

    I rather have the former. There is nothing like a professor truly believing you can be a mathematician for the sake of it.
  5. Dec 4, 2006 #4
    sorry for going off topic... but I don't wanna start another similar thread.

    So, I'm applying for physics related REU programs and most of them require two letter of recommendations. I don't know many professors beside my calc teacher. Should I go bold and ask my professors for recommendations? what should I do if I want multiple letters for multiple applications? do you think my professor will get annoyed? I'm a rather shy individual and I never really talk to my professor (besides occasionally, when I have a question)...
  6. Dec 4, 2006 #5
    Find out if your university has any kind of reference service (usually in the career planning department). Then the professor can give the recommendation there and you can send as many as you like to institutions/universities/etc.
  7. Dec 6, 2006 #6
    Firstly -- while some universities are now starting to try to promote these services, I've always heard that letters seem better if you can have them delivered directly from the individual and tailored to the particular application... i.e. addressed, including the institution/job interest, etc... hence you really don't ASK for letters until shortly before you anticipate needing them... maybe prep the professor up by asking if they can be a reference in the FUTURE.

    Along these lines, for each letter, think about giving a faculty member packet containing a description of the program or job being applied for, a preaddressed/stamped envelope, your CV, etc... with a cover letter specifying when the letter should be mailed... and any other infomation (like online program/job descriptions or your online CV). this should be given to them a week to two weeks in advance. :biggrin:

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