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Letter of Recommendation

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Tips for Writing a Letter of Recommendation
Letter of Recommendation Template
Letter of Recommendation for Scholarship
How to Request for Letter of Recommendation
Reference Letter Format
Free Sample Letter of Recommendation

Examples of Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation are taken very seriously by graduate school admission committees. They are a primary source of information regarding those qualities and abilities which can not be measured objectively through GPA or test scores. Graduate schools are looking for applicants who are personally mature, responsible, motivated, committed to and personally "turned-on" by psychology, and who, in general, will make a positive contribution to their academic community. Responsible, enthusiastic participation in class is one of the best ways to get good recommendation letters.

Most programs will ask for three or four letters of reference. These should be from either college professors or supervisors from a psychology related work, volunteer or research experience. At least two of the letters should be from psychologists. Don't assume that people will write you a positive reference; politely ask them if they feel that they know you well enough to write a positive letter. Potential references should be contacted early in the Autumn Quarter of the senior year, and should be provided with your resume, a list of classes taken from them (with grades earned) and addressed, stamped envelopes. Give your letter writers a list of all of the schools you are applying to (along with any specialized recommendation forms) at once. Do not give them two this week, another the next week, and three more the third week. Allow at least three weeks from the time you ask for the letter to the time it is actually mailed. Remember, faculty are probably writing letters for other students, and the end of the quarter tends to be a busy time for faculty, too.

One of the advantages of a small liberal arts college like PUC is that students have the opportunity to get to know their professors personally. This is important, since a good letter of recommendation is not just positive, but concrete and specific. A letter reading "Joe is an enthusiastic, mature and superior student" is much less effective than one that reads "Jennifer is the kind of student a teacher relishes. In my Social Psychology class she regularly asked me for outside references, and would come by my office to discuss her interest in cognitive dissonance research." In order for teachers to write effective letters like this, students must take advantage of small class sizes to share their interests and personalities.

On the other hand, negative impressions are easily, if subtly, communicated at a small school. Consistently sleeping through class, turning in sloppy or late assignments, or getting by with minimum effort are remembered and interpreted by faculty as immaturity, laziness or apathy. The temptation may arise to "fake good" and attempt a superficial interest or commitment. Not only is this usually easily seen through, but it is foolishly counterproductive. If you are not genuinely interested in some area of psychology, then why fake it? A more common problem is the student who is genuinely interested and excited by some areas of psychology, but is shy or uncomfortable about sharing this interest with a teacher. Students are encouraged to take a small risk, either in class, during office hours, or at one of the many opportunities for informal teacher contact (club functions, chapel, Sabbath school, etc.) and allow the behavioral science faculty to get to know them. This will not only result in more concrete, and therefore helpful letters of recommendation, but will greatly enhance the learning community of our department.

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