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Letters of Recommendation – Folio Services or Not?

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Updated and Specific Letters of Recommendation are Best

I often get asked if we accept Letters of Recommendation (LoR) stored via campus Folio services. Many college campus provide some sort of electronic folio service whereby students can have LoR written and stored for future use.  These LoR are often more general in their assessment of the candidate and can be used for jobs, internships or future graduate study.  We do see and accept letters from these kinds of services. But a stronger letter will be updated and specific to our graduate program.  

So, here are some helpful hints on how to engage with your faculty members now so that you are in a better position to request a strong  LoR later.

I recommend that you simply remain in touch with a few of your close faculty members and ask them to write a LoR at the time you apply. In this day and age of electronic connections you can easily remain in touch. You should find time to meet with 2-3 faculty members before you leave campus. Let them know your short term (gain some experience) and longer term plans (eventual graduate study). Ask if you can stay in touch and reach out for a LoR at the time you decide to apply for graduate study. This is very common and most faculty are very good at providing such letters – even a few years after having had a student in class

To make it easier, you should enter an appointment in your email/phone or whatever you use to keep track of yourself. And keep that appointment by reaching out to those faculty members via email.  You can time it around the holidays – a Happy New Year email perhaps.  And then provide them a short update about what you have been up to since graduation.  This does not have to be a long email.  But, if you make an appointment now for every 6-8 months to reach out – then when it comes time to ask for that new LoR – you feel ok about it.  Also, they have known what you have been up to and can write that letter.

When you finally do need that LoR – you should give them enough time to write it – at least a month is usually good.  Also provide them an updated resume and summary of your graduate study plans. A draft of your personal statement is helpful if you have one.

This also works with internship supervisors and past employers.  It is never too early to start developing and retaining a strong professional network!

If you still prefer to use stored letters of recommendation, you can do so. But admissions officers will prefer up to date letters that reference your ability to do well in our graduate programs specifically – and we want for you to present the best application you can!

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