Writing a letter of reference is an important and time-consuming responsibility. The best letters paint a picture of that person in concrete terms—how and when you knew the referee and your assessment of those encounters. Giving a concrete example is very powerful. Please be advised that asking the student for a resume, transcript or samples of work from your class can really assist you in writing and an effective letter.
Many references are now online. The student will provide you with a website and you enter the reference. Many sites will have graphs to rank the students and the references are time consuming. The references are so valuable to the students and need to be done well or not at all.
Some faculty/staff prefer to write a letter on departmental stationery. Either way is fine. Remember to keep a copy of any reference you write for often students will ask for a new reference after several years.
All reference information should be based on firsthand knowledge and, if possible, written documentation. When providing information, you should avoid personal matters (e.g., marital status, health, disabilities, race, religion, etc.) that by law should not be included in employment decisions, even if you believe that such information might enhance the student's candidacy.
If you would like resources on how to construct a letter of recommendation, please click on the site below.
123 Camden Ave.
Anytown, Maryland 21801
July 27, 20XX
Ms. Debra Admit
Office of Graduate School Admissions
123 College Avenue
Collegetown, Maryland, 12345
Dear Dr. Admit:
This reference letter is provided at the written request of Janie Studyhard, who has asked me to serve as a reference on her behalf. It is my understanding that Janie is being considered by New University for admission to the Counseling Psychology program.
I have known Janie Studyhard for the past three years as she has taken the following courses which I teach: [list courses, give brief description of content of course]. As her professor, I have had an opportunity to observe the student's participation and interaction in class and to evaluate the student's knowledge of the subject matter. I would rate the student's overall performance in these subjects as superior. This is evidenced by her grades--[state the grades].
[One or two specific examples of the student's performance may be appropriate.] As part of her grade in [name of course], the student was required to prepare a paper. The paper was designed to measure the student's ability to research, to analyze the results of the research, and to write. [Discuss how the paper submitted by the student indicated to you the student's skills in these areas.] Based upon this, I rate the student's skills as excellent.
Based upon the student's academic performance and my understanding of the position for which the student is applying, I believe the student would perform (place overall evaluation here).
If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.
Karen Forstudents, Ph.D.