The purpose of this page is to provide information for those
requesting letters of recommendation, not necessarily from me.|
|There are many other sources of information; the webpages of Mike Orrison and Ravi Vakil have been particularly helpful.
|As Ravi mentions, and at the risk of stating a tautology, it is in
your interest to make your letter writer's job as easy as
possible. So providing sufficient and timely information is in your
self interest. This document aims to clarify what is sufficient and
what is timely. |
|As I describe below, writing letters is an extremely
important activity for me, and hence it is very time
consuming. Also, I am asked to write many letters each year -- in
2008 this number was 21, and that is just slightly above my
average. These letters accompany applications to graduate school, summer
research programs, postdoctoral positions, and a small number more
senior positions. |
TIMING: You should request to be recommended at
least one month in advance. If I agree to write a letter on your
behalf, you should provide the following information and materials
at least three weeks
in advance of your application due date. If I receive your request
or information late, you should expect your letter to be
|Please send me a single email answering the following
questions and attaching the following materials, or providing links
where available. Not all of this applies to you.|
- What is your name (so that I don't use Sue for Suzanne or
- For undergraduates, what is your year and major?
- How long have I known you (years and months), and (for students)
what is my
relationship to you (instructor, research adviser, etc.)?
- For undergraduates, what classes have you taken with me, what
grade did you earn, and how did you distinguish yourself in my
classes? (If you did not earn a grade you like or did not
distinguish yourself in any way in my class, you will likely want to
ask another for a recommendation.)
- For HMC students, have you
graded or tutored for me? If so, for what classes and when?
- What are you applying for and what is the corresponding due
date? (A two-column list works well here.)
- For undergraduates applying to special (e.g. summer) programs or
fellowships, what are they looking for in candidates (e.g. students with
lots of programming background) and what are the specific
letter writer instructions (e.g. answer these questions and mail
your application to...)? A link to the program announcement
should be sufficient.
- What would you like me to address? How would you describe
yourself? What are your strengths?
Important accomplishments? Favorite theorems or papers?
- Who else is writing letters for you? (So I can provide
information which may not otherwise be covered.)
- For students, what are your long term goals? How will this
position/award help you attain that goal?
- What are your extracurricular interests and passions?
- Is there anything else you can think of that might help me?
In the same email as above, please send me links to, or attach the following
- your CV/resume
- for students, your unofficial transcripts
- if applicable, all necessary forms for letter writers (don't
count on me to go through each website to determine what forms I
need to complete)
- preprints or reprints I should pay special attention to
- all materials you will submit with your application
(e.g. personal essay, statement of interest, research summary or