Overview & FAQs
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation ("LOR") are an essential and potentially decisive component of the application process to virtually all graduate programs. Don't wait until you are 100% sure of your plans to start collecting letters! Sophomore year is not too early to start. If you are interested enough in a career in health or law to be reading this, it is probably time for you to start thinking about obtaining recommendation letters!
Note: Most pre-OT, PT, and PA applicants should NOT use the HPPLC Recommendation Service. The service is generally not compatible with OT, PT, and PA application processes, or at the very least can make the process more complicated. Furthermore, OT, PT, and PA programs often prefer or require that you follow other procedures. For details, click HERE.
The HPPLC / Interfolio Recommendation Service Partnership
The HPPLC / Interfolio Recommendation Service Partnership provides a safe repository for all letters that you obtain over time from your recommenders. You can obtain letters from recommenders at any time during your college career, for example, right after the class or other experience. Letters are often stronger and more effective if written when the writer's memory is freshest.
Asking for letters at IU can be daunting, especially given the prevalence of large classes. The HPPLC / Interfolio Partnership helps take the pain and frustration out of obtaining (and later disseminating) great letters.
How can the HPPLC / Interfolio Partnership help me?
- It is crucial to request letters while the impression you have made is fresh. DO NOT wait until senior year! Interfolio will hold your letters until you are ready to apply-even if this is several years after graduation.
- To assist recommenders, we have "how to" guides for writing letters, and complete instructions for sending letters to your Interfolio account. Click HERE for details.
- If you "affiliate" your Interfolio account with the HPPLC office (no extra charge), HPPLC advisors can read your letters, make recommendations, and look for errors: e.g., lack of signature, embarrassing typos, using the wrong gender, referring to the wrong school, etc. Writers appreciate the chance to make corrections.
- If you have questions as to whether such a file would benefit you, consult a HPPLC advisor, email email@example.com, or visit www.interfolio.com.
How do I open a file?
As soon as you create an Interfolio account, you will immediately be able to request letters from your writers!
What if I do NOT want a file with Interfolio?
Students who do not want to use Interfolio will need to make arrangements on their own with letter writers to have individual letters sent directly to the application service or program.
Start Obtaining Letters
Feel free to consult a HPPLC advisor about specific LOR requirements for your area of interest. Check the links at the bottom of this page for more detailed information on your area.
Who should I ask for recommendations?
Professional schools vary somewhat in the combination of letters that they prefer. Click on the link for your area of interest below, and ask your HPPLC advisor for specific details. Most programs want your writers to include professors or AIs who know you well: your study habits, academic strengths, and ability to contribute to the intellectual vitality of a classroom. Anyone with whom you've had a professional relationship can be a valuable source as well (employers, internship or volunteer supervisors, etc.). Letters from "important" people such as politicians, clergy, or friends of the family who are practitioners in your area, are usually of less value unless you have worked for them in some capacity. Seek out direct supervisors who are familiar with your work, as opposed to the titled, more famous person in charge who may not know you well.
Get to know your professors and ask for your letters while they have fresh memories of your work. Don't wait until the last minute to ask for a strong letter of recommendation!
What's the best way to ask for a letter?
It's always best to ask for a letter in person, for example, during a professor's office hours. Ideally, give your writers at least two months notice. When you speak with the professor, bring along supporting documents as described in the HPPLC publication Recommendation Request Letter. The recommender can be more specific in describing your academic abilities if he/she does not have to rely on memory alone.
In general, you should give potential writers an easy, polite way to decline if they are unable to write the type of letter that is needed. Some version of: "Would you feel comfortable writing a strong letter of recommendation for me?" might be appropriate. Any hesitation, negative body language, or failure to write after several requests are indicative of someone who is probably not a suitable recommender for you. Do NOT insist--if you do, you may well get a less than ideal letter!
For detailed tips on how to ask for a letter, see HPPLC's publication Recommendation Request Letter.
Recommendation Information for Specific Programs
Different professions handle letters differently. Please check for your area of interest below.
- Other Health Professions
PLEASE NOTE: ALL COMMUNICATIONS concerning recommendations and questions about the Recommendation Service are to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.