Writing Letters of Recommendation

You may be asked to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference for current or past students in your courses. It is your right to decline to write a letter, especially if you cannot write a strong one in support of the student, but submitting a letter is a wonderful chance to support a student in pursuit of financial aid, scholarships or future academic or career opportunities. To be asked to serve as a reference is often an indication of the positive relationship you have built with the student. Assistants new to writing letters of recommendation should consult their supervisors about the standards and expectations that might be involved.

If the application is for a professional or graduate school, however, a letter from a Teaching Assistant may bear less weight than one from a faculty member. Consider a collaborative letter with a faculty member for the student.

Letters are typically sent on university letterhead. Please contact staff in your program or college to obtain appropriate letterhead or electronic letterhead templates.

Those writing letters of recommendation should bear in mind that they have a responsibility not only to recommend the student but also to help the recipient assess the student as accurately as possible.

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