Letters of recommendation are an important part of applying to graduate school. It is generally best to get your letters from professors who know you well. Professors with whom you have taken more than one class or with whom you have had extended interactions would be good choices. A professor who had you as a student once, in a large class, several years ago, would not be able to write a very detailed letter, even if you made an outstanding grade in that class. On the other hand, you need to make sure that at least the majority of your letters come from professors who teach in the area in which you majored or in which you wish to pursue graduate study.
When you approach a professor about writing you a letter of recommendation, it would be best to determine whether or not the professor feels she/he can write a favorable letter of recommendation for you. If the letter is not going to be a positive one, then obviously you would be better off without it. If the professor indicates that he/she does not feel that the letter would be very helpful to you, then you should think of another professor to approach.
In order to ensure that your professors can write you the best letter possible, please adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Approach your professors about writing letters as soon as you know that you will be applying to graduate school. That way you won't run into any last minute problems with professors being out of town or unable to write a letter for you.
2. Provide your professors with all of the necessary materials and information at least three (3) weeks prior to the deadline.
3. You should give each professor a packet containing the following material:
a. names and addresses of schools to which you are applying
b. recommendation forms (when applicable) with your portion of the forms already completed
c. addressed envelopes for each school to which you are applying (OSU-M will pay for postage, however).
d. a list of courses you have taken from the professor, including quarter and year taken and grade earned (a transcript would be even better).
e. a list of any activities, achievements, honors, or interests which would help us write a better letter
f. your personal statement of interest in the field to which you are applying (if available)