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Being a Reference

When preparing references for job or graduate school applications, students often rely on faculty and staff members. Below are some resources to help with this important request.

Tips for Letters of Reference

If you have been asked to complete a letter of reference for a student, here are some tips designed to assist you when preparing the letter.

  • If you cannot write a positive letter of recommendation or if you have not had enough contact with the student that you can accurately describe his qualities, decline to write the letter.
  • If you agree to write the letter, ask for any information from the student that can help you write it such as a resume and transcripts.
  • Indicate your relationship to the student, including how long and in what capacity you have known him/her.
  • If you taught the student in a class, compare the student's academic performance with that of his/her peers.
  • Connect the student's experience and characteristics to the position or graduate program for which the student is applying. It is very important to include examples where possible.
  • Indicate how you can be contacted for further information (list address, phone number, and email address.)
  • The letter should be one to two pages in length, written on departmental stationery, and include your title and signature.
  • Make sure you are aware of the deadline and where the finished letter needs to be sent.

Helpful Reference Guidelines and Samples from the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Spartan Jobs


Click here for advice for students and alumni on how to request references.

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