Policy for writing recommendation letters for graduate students

I have been getting many requests for writing recommendation letters.

If you wish to get a useful letter from me, it is quite essential to know what you can do to help me help you.

It is helpful if I have some of the following facts:
  • I have known you for some time.
  • Your work is familiar to me.
  • You have been in my class.
  • You have proved a theorem that I knew.
  • Any story about our interaction will be helpful.

A recommendation letter can be effective only if it contains facts and information. The letter that I write will base on what I knew about you. I would like to be aware before hand about good things you have done or are interested in.

It simply will not work if you walk into my office for the first time to introduce your name and ask for a letter. That is why it is useful if you let me have a chance to remember you (e. g., raising your hand to ask questions or respond to problems in my class).

If all I know about you is that you are a student in the department (who has never taken my class), it is unlikely that you will get a good letter.