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Recommendation Letters from Dr. Lawrence

Recommendation letters are something that many students and professionals need to obtain employment, scholarships, or admittance into school. In the first years of my time at Lyman Briggs College, I have written dozens of letters and have been happy to do so, but each year I get more requests and this limits my ability to provide quality, substantive letters. While you may be okay with a generic letter, the committees reviewing you applications will see many of these, and it may be a detriment to you. Thus, moving forward, I am requiring the following in order for me to write a letter.

  • Recent and consistent interaction with me

    • This may be your being a ULA for me. It could be that you took my class. But the key here is that you have interacted with me in more than a cursory manner. I need to be able to write about you as a person and if you only interacted with me a handful of times in class, I may not be able to do so​

    • Recency will be important. I teach around 100 students each semester. That means if you took my class as a sophomore and then come to me two years later as a senior asking for a letter, I have interacted with 400 students between now and thus, I may not have the strongest memory of you (so, if this is the case, consistent interaction since finishing the class is imperative)

  • A good grade and/or hard effort

    • Grades often denote effort, but not always. If you got a good grade in my class (3.0 or above), then I can speak to your commitment. Rarely, students will work hard and grades will not reflect this. This effort is not lost on me​

If you fit the above criteria, then I will require the following:

  • A brief personal statement (half page to a page) about what interaction you want me to cover and how your experiences with me relate to that

    • It is important for you to be strategic with letter writers. Having three people who will say "you're great" will not help you. Having three people who can speak to different strengths will help you. Refer to ​the requirements for your application to determine what particular criteria would be beneficial to highlight

  • A brief meeting to discuss the letter

  • CV/Resume

    • I do not often need the details here, but it can supplement my points​

  • A list of the schools/places you are applying to

  • A deadline

    • It is important that you keep me honest. I will let you know when I have submitted your letter or when it is ready to submit. If you have not heard from me within one week of the deadline, it is your job to remind me, daily if needed, that I need to write your letter. Failure to do so could mean I miss the deadline (I will do my best not to, but depending on the number of requests, it could go overlooked)​

Letters are very important at your progress, and as such, you should be strategic in who you ask for letters and what they say. Importantly, my letters are confidential. I will submit them directly to your organizations but not to you. This is because many committees will assume influence if they know you saw the letter, and this could bode ill for you. If you have questions, feel free to reach out.

Note: I will save your letter, so if you want to apply to things later, then you need only give me a list of places you are applying to and a deadline.

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