Faculty recommendation letters should provide an honest assessment and only include topics in which you have first-hand knowledge. Please do not use “form letters” because they put a student at a disadvantage in competition with others who have strong individualized letters. Telling the student you don’t have time to write a letter is better than using a form letter. All recommendations are held in strict confidence and are not seen by the student.
Quality grant recommendations typically describe the following:
- The student’s academic ability and potential to complete the selected research or study abroad program successfully
- The student’s level of commitment to and progress in his or her honors program
- The specific reasons why the Honors College should or should not award this student over other students
- Any hesitations you have regarding the student and/or the selected program
- Any additional comments you would like to make that weren’t already covered in the other points
If you are recommending a student for study abroad, please address the following issues as well:
- The fit of the selected academic institution and program (including coursework proposed) to the student’s field of study and/or professional goals
- If the course instruction is not in English, the student’s ability and background to complete coursework in the language of instruction successfully
If you are recommending a student for a research travel grant:
Please be sure to include a narrative explaining the importance of the proposed travel to the student's academic, research and professional goals.
If you are recommending a student for an Extended Research Travel grant:
Instead of a traditional recommendation letter, you will be asked to fill out the Research Supervision Form – you will receive a link to the form once your student has submitted the application. The form asks specific questions concerning your knowledge of the student’s travel, including what you know about the research, the site, the people, the proposed agenda, and the safety of the location. Given that this is a long-term trip, potentially abroad, it is imperative that you have a role in the planning of the travel and feel comfortable recommending not only the student but the intended location and plan.
Thank you for writing recommendations for your honors students!