Submitted by BattenAdmission on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 11:16

Maximizing your Letters of Rec


  1. Make sure the person you’re asking to write your letter actually knows you and your work/skills/passions well enough to give you a strong endorsement.


Having a senior person write a generic letter of recommendation without personal knowledge of you and your skills could, in fact, produce a less-than-desired effect. At best, it misses an opportunity to add real value to helping the admissions committee get to know you. Instead, choose someone with whom you have worked closely, like a faculty member, TA, or direct supervisor for work, who can speak concretely about your accomplishments.


To get a good sense of whether someone will write a good letter on your behalf, feel free to ask them if they feel they know you well enough to recommend you. This will give them an easy out if they are not comfortable, or not equipped, to act as a reference.



  1. Connect with your recommender, in person if possible, before entering their information into the online application.


By identifying your recommenders early and speaking to them before you begin your application, your request will not come as a surprise, and you’ll have an opportunity to tell them more about Batten, its programs, and why you want to be here; what strengths you feel you bring to the table; what you hope to do with the degree; and other information that will help them write a compelling letter for you. 


Once you’ve made connection, be sure to enter your recommender’s information into the system, to give them sufficient time to write the letter. (Pro tip: put their contact information in the application and hit save to automatically generate the prompt that will be emailed to them which will contain the link to submit their letter. You do not have to officially submit your application for this request to go out.)



  1. Let them know why you thought of them to write the letter.


This helpful context can set the tone and steer their thinking about the kind of letter you’d like to receive. It can be helpful to remind them of how long, and under what circumstances, you have known one another. To the extent you can, give your recommender language to talk about your aspirations, why you have them and how Batten fits into them.



  1. Make it easy!


Be polite, be professional, communicate deadlines, and avoid any grammatical or spelling errors in written requests. Let you recommender know they will receive an automated message from our system which will provide the link for them to submit their letter. Give complete information and make sure to put your best foot forward!


(Pro tip: When you input your recommender’s name and email into the application, you can also include a personalized note that will be included when they are sent the link to upload their letter of recommendation.)



  1. Remind your recommender of your positive interactions.


The goal is to have a recommendation that tells an accurate story about your relationship, your strengths, the experiences you’ve had together, and your fit for the program. Take the initiative by reminding the recommender of the interactions you’ve had that make them qualified to recommend you. Is there a specific time, trait or project you want them to focus on? If there are three talking points you want them to hit, go ahead and state them! Some recommenders even ask you to help them create a first draft of the letter which they can then build on.



  1. Provide evidence.


In addition to telling them exactly what you are applying for and why, be sure to provide concrete examples—whether a class performance, project or assignment, or role that you performed in relation to them—that will really help distinguish you. Speak honestly about your accomplishments and talk about any relevant personal qualities. Make sure the examples you provide align with the mission and values of the program you are applying for. (Pro tip: check Batten’s website and look for cues there!)


You can also give your recommender a copy of your resume, your transcript, and even your personal statement/short essays to help paint a more complete picture of you. Consider this important background information for them but know that it will be helpful if they focus more on your character and traits, and less on your achievements, as those are something the admissions committee will be able to see in other parts of your application.




  1. Send your recommender a polite reminder one week before the letter is due just to make sure they’ve done it.


Even though our system should alert you when your letter has been received, feel free to reach out directly to your recommender. This will prompt them to submit it or give you an opportunity to thank them! Once you’ve submitted your application, you will be able to see if letters of recommendation have been received, and you can even remind letter-writers through the portal to upload a letter if they have not done so already.


Follow these tips and we guarantee you have laid the groundwork to help your recommender write a strong letter on your behalf!