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Career Education

Vassar College

Letters of recommendation, also referred to as reference files, credentials, or a dossier, are typically required for applications to graduate and professional school, fellowships, and scholarships. They may also be required for internships, jobs, and research opportunities.

Effective fall 2023, the Center for Career Education (CCE) will no longer store and send new letters of recommendation. Because every school and program has their own unique process and specifications, we recommend that students and alums work directly with their letter writers to adhere to submission guidelines. If you have a prior letter on file with the CCE and wish to have the office send it on your behalf, we are happy to accommodate to the best of our ability. Please note, however, that most schools and programs prefer or even require that letters come directly from your recommenders.

Important notes:

  • Letters of recommendation will only be released with your consent. 
  • In our experience, letters of recommendation older than five (5) years are perceived by graduate schools or organizations as less relevant than more recent letters.
  • Transcripts can be requested from the Registrar’s Office.

Tips for requesting letters of recommendation:

Request letters of recommendation only from people you feel confident can report honestly on your best personal and academic qualities. If you are unsure, ask simply and directly: “I need a letter of recommendation for ________, and I wondered if you felt that you knew me and my work well enough to write a strong letter of recommendation.” The aim is to have your recommender present you in a clear, positive, professional light. 

Recognize that recommenders are busy people and that it will be to your advantage to make their job as easy as possible:

  • Gather your recommendations systematically on a semester, yearly, or summer basis: as soon as possible after the experience itself
  • Give a copy of your resume (and, possibly, personal statement) to your recommender
  • Tell your recommender how and why you plan to use the recommendation
  • Give your recommender plenty of advance notice; do not wait until the last minute to ask for a letter
  • Be sure to thank your recommenders, and to let them know the outcome of your applications