Letters of Recommendation
Many students, during their studies or when about to graduate, ask for letters of recommendation when they apply for graduate programs or want to study abroad. To fulfill all these wishes is neither possible, nor sensible. Here are the criteria that you should satisfy in order to obtain a letter of recommendation that is useful for you:
- Due to time constraints, I will write letters of recommendation only if they are strictly required for the application to an academic program (Master, PhD, exchange).
- Your grades in our courses and seminars, or in the thesis you have written under our supervision, have to be good or excellent. These grades will expressly be mentioned in the letter, and it certainly does not promote your goals to have an average or bad grade highlighted this way.
- The overall image conveyed by your transcript of grades should justify an application. You don’t have to be an A student to qualify for studies abroad or for a graduate program. However, a bad performance during your current program may render the whole application fruitless, so you should at least think about saving the effort.
- If you are heading for a program that emphasizes quantitative topics, like Finance or Management Economics, you'd better have decent grades in subjects like Microeconomics, Mathematics, Statistics, Econometrics... Otherwise it might be a waste of time - for us to draft a letter, for you to apply. Better switch to a more suitable program.
- Make sure that you know in greater detail how the application procedure works. You have to know exactly what you need: Just a letter in a closed and sealed envelope? Does this letter have to bear the address of the institution where you apply? Or is it necessary/sufficient to fill in a form? Does the institution send an email to the referee that requires him to fight through an online questionnaire? All this is research you should do before we talk about your application.
- Be on time. Do not show up and ask to receive a letter of recommendation the following day. This might be possible in very exceptional cases, but there is no guarantee for that. Better ask for the letter at least six weeks before the deadline for your application, in particular if it is in the semester break. And finally: better do not request 20 or 30 letters of recommendation at a time.
If you want to apply for such a letter, then email a
- current CV,
- transcript of your grades,
- description of the programs you want to apply for,
- description of the requirements (see above),
- short description of your motivation for applying for this specific program.
Put as much information as possible into the body of your email. If it is inevitable to send an attachment, then assign a sensible filename, like "myname_grades.pdf". It is impossible to keep track of all the attachments cleverly named "grades.doc" or "cv.pdf". In each case, the recipient's address will be added to the letter, so don't forget to mention the full address when describing the respective program.
Either you can have your letter in a sealed envelope (which you can send in with your application), or I will send it directly to the institution where you apply (e.g., if you submit your application online). The reason is simple: an unsealed letter of recommendation "to whom it may concern" is pretty worthless.