a goat
  Asking for a letter of recommendation?

I receive many requests for letters of recommendation, especially in the fall. While I am generally happy to write them, to keep up with the number of requests I've had to devise some general organizational strategies. You will get the best results if you follow these guidelines.

  Steps for a Happy Application Season

• Start early! I require at least two weeks' notice before the first letter is due.

• Prepare a dossier (electronic format) containing the following:
      1) Your CV or resume
      2) Your personal statement(s) or application essay(s)
      3) Your current unoffical transcript
      4) An explanation of what programs/institutions you are applying to, and how you decided to apply to them. Also note the faculty/mentor you discussed these decisions with.

• Create a folder on a shared drive, e.g., Google Drive. Share this folder with "chomiukl *AT* msu.edu". Place your dossier in this folder.

• Create a spreadsheet within this folder, and make sure it is editable by me. The spreadsheet should have the following columns:
      1) Institution you are applying to
      2) Program (Astronomy Ph.D.? Physics M.S.? Postdoc Fellowship?)
      3) Instructions for letter submission
      4) Due date
      5) If an electronic letter request is being sent by the institution, has it been sent yet?
      6) Letter submission status (Leave blank; I will fill this in when I submit the letter)
Make one row per institution that you will be applying to.

• If at all possible, start all applications at the same time in order to send the electronic letter request form to me (you don't need to finish or submit the application---just request the letter). Letter request forms can dribble in to my inbox over months, making it very burdensome on my brain and very likely I'll make a mistake. Please try to do letter requests in a big batch, and I will love you for it.

  Year Before You Apply:

Meet with faculty / mentors to get advice about grad school.

  Summer Before You Apply:

Draft list of potential school. Ask me for my list of astrophysics grad schools.


Finalize list of schools by talking to faculty and browsing websites. Approach potential letter writers and ask if they are comfortable writing for you.


Prepare academic statement & CV; have someone read over them and give feedback.


Assemble dossier and share with letter writers; write applications.

  Home About Me Research Publications CV Astro Careers Letter Requests