Here’s a very common question from a student:
There are two parts to this question:
- Do you feel that it is OK for you to write your own letter of recommendation?
- What should you include in your letter of recommendation / are there any samples out there?
DIY Letter of Rec – Good or Bad?
To the first point: I personally really really like it when a student has a chance to work out a draft of their own letter of recommendation. It’s a fact of life — people are busy, you know yourself and your relationship with the recommender best — so it’s practical. But is it ethical?
That question is for each person to answer based on his/her own moral compass. If you’re OK with it, great! If not, then best to ask another recommender. As long as the recommender reads the letter and makes his/her own adjustments, to me this makes the letter their own.
What Makes A Letter of Recommendation Great?
Now, the second point. What should you include in your letter of recommendation?
To start with, I suggest you ask your recommender to share with you the outline / key elements of a good letter of recommendation. This will make the whole process easier for everyone — you get help figuring out what to include in the letter, and the recommender can start to craft the letter in the direction of his/her preference.
OK, what if the recommender doesn’t have anything, or isn’t willing to share? In that case, try going to the pre health office on campus and see what they have. Still nothing? Then you can always take a look at online resources. I recommend you look at Great Letters of Recommendation. That online guide has boatloads of sample letters, plus instructions on what to include in a good letter of recommendation for medical school. It also has other letter samples, too, so you can use it later in your career.
I say, Go for it!