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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

    Letter to: those asking for a letter of recommendation

    To whom this may concern to,

    Asking someone for a letter of recommendation can often feel like asking a superior if they think highly of you, or if they like you at all. We are asking someone to speak highly of us. We want them to tell someone the best parts of us, our great attendance and the attention we pay in class. Most of all we want someone to paint a positive picture of our image. Something that will assist us on our job hunting, scholarship applications or whatever other opportunities are presented to us.

    As for the process of asking for a letter of recommendation, it is easy to get lost. This is why I went to the Career Center‘s drop-in time. Here I met with Career Advisor Brianna Ellis, who was willing to answer all my questions about this daunting subject and offer suggestions.

    Before you even ask a professor for a letter of recommendation, you need to get to know them. How can you expect a professor, or anyone else, to write a letter praising someone they hardly know? Go into office hours and let them know your goals and ambitions, often times they can offer you real-world advice on how to help you achieve those goals.

    When you do go to ask, you should have a resume ready and at your disposal. This will give them a record of your accomplishments both professionally and academically. If you need help preparing your resume check out the tips and examples provided by the Career Center. It is also courteous to give the writer (ideally) a month of time before the letter needs to be done. It is important to remember that they are busy and doing you a favor.

    Be up front about the need of this letter. If you are applying for multiple things, let them know. This way you are not springing on them your need for four letters–each for a different program. Let them know about each program, scholarship, etc. that you are applying for. Give the writer information about the requirements for what you are applying for, this way you can get the best fitting letter possible.

    If the person you asked turns around and denies you or asks if you could write your own letter and then return it to them to sign, politely say thank you and express that you understand they are really busy and not to worry about it. After all, you want to get a letter from someone who has the time to craft their own special letter all about you. If they outright say “No,” don’t feel discouraged they more than likely do not have enough time to help you out.

    Keep in mind, above all else you want to get a letter of recommendation from someone who wants to write one for you. Although the process can seem scary, you will get a great letter and they will know how much you value their words. Mutual respect will go a long way in your journey to your career.

    The Chico State Career Center is available for help with resumes and other career-related topics. The drop-in hours are Monday-Friday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. They are located in the Student Services Center, Room 270.

    Rachael Bayuk can be reached at or @R_Bayuk on Twitter.

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