- Before asking a professor for a letter of recommendation, you should be sure that you have a relationship with that professor. This doesn't mean you are friends with them. This means that they know who you are. Ideally this should be a professor you have known for 2 or more semesters, who you have visited in office hours, and in whose classes you have made A's.
- You should give your professor plenty of time to write the letter of recommendation. Ideally, you would ask them at least a month in advance. However, two weeks may be sufficient if you are on a tight deadline. If you have to ask with even shorter notice, don't let it stop you, but be aware that they may have to say 'no' due to other, previous commitments.
- Ask politely. This can be in person or via email, but your request should be respectful and polite.
- Provide your professor with the information they will need to write the letter or make the nomination. A resume, personal statement, a reminder of the courses you took with them and your grade in that course, any information about yourself that you hope they will highlight in the letter, and important deadline and submission information.
- Finally, thank your professors (literally, just say thank you), and tell them the outcome! Email them and say that you got admitted to law school, got the scholarship (or didn't), etc. If they care enough about you to write a letter of recommendation, then they will also care enough to want to hear the outcome.
Did you know you can nominate yourself for things? You can nominate yourself for awards, scholarships, fellowships, grants, etc. When it comes to scholarships in particular, you can, and should, actively seek out options and apply. Awards can be a little more specific. There are some university awards, for instance, that require a faculty member to nominate a student. You can ask a faculty member to nominate you for these. Your professors may absolutely love you and think that you deserve every award in existence, but perhaps the specific awards or deadlines aren't on their radar. It does no harm to bring it up with them. That being said, let's talk about how to ask a professor for a recommendation or nomination.
Clare Brock is a professor of American Politics and Public Policy at TWU. She works primarily in the areas of food policy, lobbying, and money in politics.