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Guidelines for Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Guidelines for Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Because we want to do this as positively and as efficiently as possible, we have written the following guidelines for you. You should request letters of recommendation at least four weeks prior to the deadline. Letters are most effective when I (and/or one of the graduate students working with me) have known you for at least a semester and can appraise your work with some degree of specificity.

You should provide:

  • In the case of graduate school applications, a personal statement.
  • Sign a waiver giving up your right to see the recommendation letter.
  • A sample of your written work (paper or exam).
  • Recommendation forms. ** Print out paper copies of the recommendation forms from each institution if the recommendations are to be submitted by mail.
  • A list of addresses and deadlines. Please provide a hard copy and e-mail me an electronic (Word Document version) as well.
  • Unofficial Transcript.
  • Resume or CV.
  • A statement indicating why you feel the experiences you had working in my lab or through courses taken with me will benefit you in the program you are applying for. This statement may be identical or different for each of the programs you are applying for.
  • Stamped envelopes, addressed to each institution (unless they require that I submit online)
  • IMPORTANT: List of WHEN you worked in the lab, WHAT you did, and your SUPERVISOR.
    • BE SPECIFIC. Example: Sept 2014-Dec 2015: Entered mother and adolescent questionnaire packet data, focus group notetaking (Supervisors: Dr. Witherspoon, Sakshi Bhargava, Saskia Boggs, Wei Wei).
    • IMPORTANT: List of WHEN you were in my class, WHAT you did (i.e., topic of group and/or individual presentation), GRADE you received on presentation
      • BE SPECIFIC.
      • PLEASE complete the “Recommender Information” section of the evaluation forms. Below is the information you’ll need. Please don’t leave this blank.


Name: Dawn Witherspoon, Ph.D.
Title: Associate Professor
Institution Affiliation: Pennsylvania State University
Address: Child Study Center, 217 Moore Bldg, University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-867-3112
Fax: 814-863-5658 (department)

IMPORTANT: I will send letters DIRECTLY to the institution to which you are applying (hence the need for accurate addresses and deadlines). Although certain places will ask letters to be sent to you (the applicant) and mailed together with your other materials in one packet, it is my policy to mail them directly to the institution.

Note regarding electronic recommendations: It is now becoming more and more common for schools to request that letters of support be submitted electronically via a website. If this is the case for any of your schools, I am willing to do this for you. In this case, you will  have to provide my name and contact information online (see above) and the school will then e-mail me to ask me to provide the recommendation. I will still need a list of schools and due dates.