Brian W. O'Shea - Recommendation letters
I am very happy to write recommendation letters, but if you
want me to write a letter or letters for you there are several
things that I need. I realize that the list is
rather long, but just remember that the more information you
can give me, the better of a letter I can write!
- All of the information listed below should be
provided electronically (in pdf/MS word/text file form) at least
2 weeks prior to the deadline.
- I will only write confidential letters.
- If you have taken a course from me, you should generally
received a strong grade in the course (3.5 or
higher). That said, if you feel there are exceptional circumstances
regarding your grade, please talk to me about it!
- If you want me to write multiple letters, please give me the information
for all of them at the same time. This will help me to
ensure that I don't accidentally forget to submit one or more
letters due to requests being buried in my inbox. (Note: Med school letters all go through Interfolio,
so this isn't relevant for that type of letter.) You may
find it useful to organize all of the information about
deadlines in a Google Spreadsheet that you can share with me -
this is becoming standard practice, and is very useful!
Information I need to write a letter:
I need the following information,
in electronic (pdf, word, rtf, text file) form that is sent to me
in a single email. Please do not give me paper copies - it's
far easier for me to keep track of digital copies!
- A description of what you are applying for: is it some sort of
academic honor? Medical school? Dental School? Graduate school? This information is
necessary so that I can provide the correct level and
variety of detail.
- If you are applying to med/dental/vet school, do you
have a specialization in mind at this time? (For example, oncology, pediatric
medicine, large-animal medicine, reconstructive
dentistry...) What made you decide on this specialization?
- A note explaining why you are asking me to write a letter for you
and who else will be writing letters for you. This helps me to adjust
the content of my letter appropriately.
- A bullet-point list of things you would specifically like me to talk about in my
letter. This isn't meant to be a draft letter for me, but should be things that I should
remember when I write a letter for you. This can include standard things from your CV
(how I got to know you, prizes won, etc.) but should also include relevant anecdotes to make useful stories
about you and your work (i.e., received perfect scores on all exams, first author of a research
paper as a junior, etc.). This is not the time for modesty: you need to remind me of how
amazing you are so I can emphasize this in my letter!
- A copy of your current transcript (unofficial is
fine - MSU students, just go to StuInfo and send me a pdf of
your grade report).
- A copy of your resume and/or CV.
- MCAT/GRE scores (if available and relevant).
- Your personal statement(s) / application essay(s).
- If you took one of my senior capstone courses, please give me a copy of one or two
of the papers you wrote for my course.
- List of schools to which you will be applying and due dates (Not relevant for med school letters,
since it all goes through Interfolio).
- The name and title of the person who will receive the
completed letter, if relevant.
- Any forms that need to be filled out or signed, with information
about you (your address, birth date, etc.) already filled in.
- If letters have to be submitted electronically:
a list of the URLs or email addresses where
I should send the letters. Med school applicants: Interfolio will send out an
email, ignore this.
- If letters are to be physically mailed: a list of the organizations and people
that the letters should be sent to AND addressed, stamped
envelopes of the appropriate size and postage. Leave the return address area
blank - I will fill this in myself.