Sep 13, 2010, 11:45 PM
Post #303 of 333
Welcome to the forum, man.
Yeah, this has been addressed before, but it's simple enough.
Securing letters of recommendation is a simple task. Your professors know the drill, and if you give them enough time to respond, things should roll along smoothly. Writing recommendation letters is part of the profession, so you're not putting them out with the request.
If you're thinking about applying to schools with December and January deadlines, now would be a good time to get in touch with the folks you want to write for you.
Simply drop them a line informing them of your plans and let them know that you'll be applying to several schools and that you'll be getting in touch with a final list of schools as soon as you determine all the places where you want to apply. Start with the top three professors. They should let you know right away that they'll write for you. If they don't, move on to the fourth, fifth, sixth candidates accordingly.
Most MFA applications are online, and most offer electronic submission of letters of recommendation. This is about as easy as it gets for the letter writers. You'll enter all their contact information (institution, address, phone, email), and the system will send them an email with the instructions on how they will upload their letters.
This makes things a simple copy and paste affair. Your writers may tweak their letters here and there if they happen to have a relationship with the faculty or schools where you're applying, but don't kid yourself--the letter writers are not going to write ten or twelve unique letters. They're going to write one letter and make slight adjustments as needed.
No biggie for you, becuase the letter of recommendation is about as important as the application fee as far as your appplication is concerned--application decisions are made on the strength of your writing sample.
Anyway, like I said, the letter-writing process is almost entirely electronic. If you happen to be applying to schools that don't offer online letters of recommendation (not very likely any more, but still possible), then your job is to provide the letter writers with everything they need to make the process as painless as possible. Fill out all the forms as best you can, address the envelopes, provide the stamps, and paperclip all the relevant information together into a tidy bundle so that the schools don't get confused. Again, not too many places require paper letters any more, but if they do, most will allow the letter writers to send their letters directly. They don't have to send them back to you.
If you do have an application that requires paper letters and that wants all the paper letters in your paper application, just be sure to address your letters back to yourself. Then you can collect them (don't open them, of course) and make sure they get sent according to the application's directions.
But this is not likely to happen. Again, almost everything is electronic nowadays.
Now the nice thing about electronic applications is you'll have the ability to see when and if your letter writers completed their letters. If it's getting into December and you don't see anythign submitted from Letter Writer #2, for example, you can click a button that will have the system send a reminder message.
Really, it's as easy as can be. Nothing to sweat.
There are other options out there if you run into snags (a professor who agrees to write one letter one time, for instance), but concentrate on going through the basic process first. This is the easiest and cheapest way.