Letters of Recommendation

Should you ask me for a letter?

If you need a letter of recommendation, I'll do my best to help you. I try to write letters that will help people as much as possible, but I have to be honest. I may be writing to the same employer or school in the future, and I want them to trust what I say. In particular, if I know something significant about you that is negative but nevertheless relevant, I have an obligation to mention it. If as a result I feel that my letter will do more harm than good, I will tell you that I can't write for you. (I may not be able to write letters for you for other reasons, such as not having enough time.)

Some things which will cause me to decline to write recommendations include classes skipped without an excuse, assigned work not done, rude, inconsiderate, or unethical behavior, and excessive excuses.

Obviously, I'll be able to write stronger letters for people who have gotten higher grades, all other things being equal. But employers and schools will probably ask for a copy of your transcript, so they'll see the grades you got. From letter writers, they usually want to hear about things like potential for success (in a particular kind of job, or in a grad program), work habits, character, and attitude.

There are people who have gotten average (or low) grades in my classes who I could write pretty good letters for. Why? They tried hard. They didn't skip classes or homeworks. They did all the assigned work, and also showed that they cared about doing well and understanding the material. They didn't omit the harder problems, or just scribble down some stuff to try to get partial credit. Their homeworks didn't regularly look like copies of the homeworks turned in by other people. Maybe they even bothered to drop in during office hours and ask real questions. They treated other people well.

Information I Need

I need the following information:

General Guidelines

Note: If you're using PA-Educator, I will send my letter directly to them, so you'll need to give me a cover page (with your name and social security number). Follow the instructions on their web site.

Suggestion: If you have a lot of letters, you can help me and other letter writers and help yourself as well by tracking your applications in a spreadsheet. Keep records of where you're applying, the addresses letters are to be sent to, the deadline for applications, and whether the completed letters are to be sent directly to the employer or grad school or given to you. If you do this, give a copy of the spreadsheet to your letter writers so we can check off letters as they're completed.

Here's some of my personal information, in case you need it to fill in your forms:

Contact information

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Copyright 2016 by Bruce Ikenaga