So You Want a Reference

So, you want a reference letter from me, eh? I hope I can help but there are a few conditions. I've put this page up to outline them so you'll know early on whether you can count on me or whether you should find somebody else.

The main criterion is that you've completed one of my ISCI 344 Game Theory, Systems Approaches to Regional Sustainability, or ISCI 422 Models courses. If not, I won't be able to provide a reference, sorry. I need to have seen your academic performance in a typical classroom setting. That's also why the ISCI 300 Seminar or ISCI 320 Retreat aren't suitable–they are both very atypical courses and don't highlight the kinds of qualities I'll need to be considering for a reference letter. I also can't provide a reference to students who are currently taking ISCI 344, 360, or 422 but haven't yet finished it–the final report for your project is an invaluable part of your evaluation.

If you have taken ISCI 344, 360, or 422 in the last few years then I'd probably be happy to provide a reference for any graduate or professional program applications or for a job related to your studies. But check with me to confirm. Once I agree to a referral I'll need a few things from you first:

  • An addressed and stamped or prepaid envelope (for a posted letter). Please fill in the destination address and my IntSci snail mail return address. If the reference is to be submitted online send me the link.
  • A copy of your CV or resume. I'd like to see what you've been up to for the last few years. It'll help me see if my opinion of your traits is well-based.
  • Your own reference letter. That's right, I want you to write one yourself. This way I get to see you as you see yourself. What do you think are the best qualities you presented to me? (It also helps weed out insincere reference requests. It's a lot of work to write a meaningful reference!) Please write it formally, as if I could sign my name to the bottom and send it off. (No, it won't happen. But if I agree with your self-assessment I may harvest pieces.) Highlight your best attributes and include specific examples from class as supporting evidence. Also, address at least one weakness–explain how you will cope with it or why it won't be a serious problem. Overall, be fair but flattering.

Drop these items off at my office1) at least three weeks before it has to be dropped in the mail. That should give me enough time to complete it even if things are hectic. Once I've completed the referral I'll drop it in the mail and hope for the best.

I'd appreciate it if you let me know whether you get accepted or not for each reference I provide. Otherwise I have no idea how my references are being received. It would be good to discover if stronger support referrals resulted in more successful applications. Thanks.

Email is fine for online submissions.
  • teaching/reference.txt
  • Last modified: 2018-08-20 11:52 (5 years ago)
  • by Rik Blok