Most applicants to graduate school find that soliciting recommendation letters is one of the most stressful aspects of applying to grad school. Determining who to ask is daunting. Which professors know you best? It may be easy to identify faculty to write the first letter or two, but three recommendation letters? Yikes. Even the most prepared applicants wonder how to fill all recommendation letter slots. Once you’ve identified three professors， it’s time to gather the guts to ask them. Remember: They don’t have to say yes.
Asking is Only the Beginning
Remember that your relationship and responsibility to the faculty who write on your behalf does not end with a successful request, submitting documents to aid professors in writing your letters, or even with professors submitting their recommendation letters. You are not done once your application is in. Your next task is to thank those who wrote letters on your behalf and provide them with updates as to your progress in seeking admittance to graduate school.
A Simple Thank You
Few students acknowledge recommendation letters (unless they are late and delaying an application). It is a very simple and small gesture, but it is noticed and appreciated.
Why Thank Profs Who Write Letters on Your Behalf?
Writing a helpful letter takes time and energy. The writer must consider the entry requirements for each graduate program and consider your background and experiences to determine how to write the most effective letter. He or she is not required to write a letter on your behalf and instead is going out of the way to help you.
Send a Simple Thank You Note
Acknowledge your professor’s time by sending a thank you note that expresses your appreciation. An email is a quick way to do this, but consider sending an old-fashioned thank you card. Take a few minutes out of your day to hand write a thank you note to each of the professors who wrote on your behalf.
Self-Serving Reasons for Thank You Note
Given that few students send such notes, yours will stand out. Why do you care? Because the recommendation letter for entry to graduate school is just the first of many letters that you will need over the years. You’ll need letters when you apply to fellowships, some scholarships, and eventually when you apply for jobs after graduation, as well as awards later in your career. Not to mention, you might decide to apply to more schools later on, or even next year. Also note that sometimes admissions committees call faculty who have written letters of recommendation. Make sure that your letter writers continue to view you in a positive light. A thank you note takes two minutes to write but offers many benefits.