Requesting a Recommendation or Reference from Dr. Davis: Guidelines for Students to Follow
Often professors are asked by students to write recommendations for employment, scholarships, missions programs, graduate school, or some other type of professional school (i.e. law, medicine, or business). They are also asked to serve as references for students, especially for employment purposes. Increasingly, recommendations and references count significantly in the assessment of a student’s competence and future potential.
In order to write a recommendation (or to give a reference) that is informed, accurate, and effective, Dr. Davis requests that all students who ask him for a recommendation or reference read and heed the following guidelines:
1. Inform him of your need, in writing, well in advance of the due date. Given his many academic responsibilities, a minimum of three weeks is required, with an optimum lead-time of six weeks.
2. Be sure to provide him a brief letter of intent, stating your reasons why you want to pursue a given job, graduate program, etc., along with specific details that will help him be specific in his own letter.
3. Remind Dr. Davis of his previous relationship with you. This may sound silly, but even though he has an excellent memory, he cannot always recall pertinent facts such as 1) which course(s) you took from him, 2) when you took the course(s), and 3) what your grade was in the course(s).
4. Once you have provided him with all of the above information in writing, give him a call or write an email, confirming whether he is willing and able to write you a recommendation or serve as a reference. Realize that writing a recommendation and/or serving as a reference is the prerogative of the professor, not a requirement. In some cases, Dr. Davis may feel the need to decline a particular request for various possible reasons.
5. After you have been given the green light from Dr. Davis, provide him with the pertinent forms, envelopes, and postage.
6. Finally, be sure to keep Dr. Davis on target with regard to the deadline. In a given semester, he may be asked to write as many as ten recommendations. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep track of your own deadline and Dr. Davis’ progress. He does not mind a weekly reminder from a student needing a recommendation or asking for approval to serve as a reference.