If I have agreed to write a recommendation for you, please give me:

  1. A copy of your transcript (unofficial is fine) and a copy of your Academic Progress Report.
  2. A copy of your personal statement and CV/resume (if they are required for the application). If you would prefer not to receive feedback on these, let me know. Otherwise, let me know a date by which feedback would be useful.
  3. All necessary forms.
  4. For any applications requiring me to mail my recommendation directly, addressed Bucknell Math Department envelopes (see Polly Doyle in Olin 380) without stamps.

At least two weeks before the first letter is due, write up and give me your answers to the following questions (the more details the better):

  1. What is your name, year, and major?
  2. List the programs to which you are applying, together with due dates. Sometimes your due date is different from the due date for your recommendation letters: please give me the latter in these cases.
  3. Who are your other letter writers? (This tells if I'm going to be saying things about you that other people are in a better position to say.)
  4. What makes me particularly qualified to write a letter for you?
  5. How did you distinguish yourself in my class(es) or in the other contexts in which we interacted?
  6. How would you describe yourself?
  7. What are some of your academic accomplishments?
  8. What are some of your nonacademic accomplishments?
  9. What makes you particularly qualified for this position/honor/award?
  10. What are your long term goals and will this position/honor/award help? If so, how?
  11. Should I write a general letter about you or focus on any particular aspects, such as character or academic ability?
  12. Additional comments (REU's, summer research, interesting jobs, hobbies, etc.)?
  13. Finally, federal regulatios require that I have your consent to disclose any part of your academic record (e.g. your grades) to anyone outside Bucknell. It may make for a stronger recommendation if I can mention certain numbers or grades you have achieved. Please include a statement saying "I consent that Peter McNamara disclose pertinent parts of my academic record when giving a reference to individuals outside Bucknell," and sign (typing your name is OK) and date this statement.

If any of your letters require online submission, please ensure you have completed the following steps at least one week before the first online letter is due:

  1. Started the online application process.
  2. Entered my details as a letter writer. My address, phone number and email address are here. My fax number is 570-577-3264 and my title is "Associate Professor of Mathematics."
  3. Saved or submitted the results. The important point is that this usually causes an email to be automatically sent to me giving me the link I need to submit my letter. Please try to complete this step for all your online applications at least one week before the first online letter is due, or at least as early as possible. This will allow me to do all my online submissions at once, rather than dragging the process out over several weeks.

FYI, online submission sites often ask the letter writer for information additional to the prepared letter, including ratings of the candidate according to various criteria.

I recommend that you also read this advice from David Richeson, especially the part about waiving your rights to see the letter. Feel free to chat with me about other ways you can make the letter writing process go as smoothly as possible for you and your letter writers. Good luck!

(Based on a list from Michael Orrison.)