College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Animal & Avian Sciences

Letters of Recommendation/References

Strong letters of recommendations (or the lack thereof) can make or break your professional school application, so you want to make sure you are cultivating good references who can write you a glowing letter. Good references are also essential when applying for jobs or internships.

How do you build relationships to get good references ?

1. Get to know your faculty members

This might include visiting office hours, serving as an Undergraduate TA or working in a research lab, serving as an officer in a student organization, and maintaining communication throughout your undergraduate career. *Important*: just taking one class with someone or having an annual advising meeting is not enough basis to ask for a recommendation letter. You want someone who really knows you well and can talk up your strengths.

2. Start early

The earlier you start getting to know your professors, the more they can learn about you. It may take 3-4 semesters to develop the relationship needed for the letter writer to know you well enough to write the strongest letters.

3. Demonstrate professionalism

Remember that your reference will talk about things like your ability to work with others, your communication skills, your initiative, your work ethic, and your attitude. Strive to always be professional in your communications with all University faculty and staff.


How do you ask for a letter or reference?

1. Ask early

DO NOT WAIT until the week before a letter is due to start asking. Give your letter writer plenty of time to review your request, and then to write the letter if they agree to do so.

2. Provide materials

You should provide the letter writer or reference with the details about the letter (deadlines, how to submit, description of what they're writing the letter for), as well as a copy of your resume, transcript, and any other relevant materials.

3. Ask someone you have a positive relationship with, who is relevant to the opportunity

You want to make sure that your letter writer can talk about why you're qualified for whatever you're applying for, and do so in a positive light.


A few additional good resources on tips for asking for a letter or reference:



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