If you have been in class with me, been my advisee, or otherwise been acquainted with me at the college, I am generally more than happy to write you a recommendation letter for your applications to graduate school, internships, and jobs. However, please note that writing a letter is a time-consuming process. In order to ensure you receive the best letter possible, please heed the following steps.
Please read this page and make sure you get me everything I need at least three weeks prior to any due date you have. Not all letters are the same: letters for graduate programs (especially doctoral programs) take more time than most job and career letters. If you are asking for a doctoral program letter, make sure to let me know in plenty of time - if you know that you're going to be asking me for a letter two months ahead of your due dates, let me know then.
You can ask me for a letter over email, but if possible, it is better to ask in person. (You can schedule appointments with me here.) This allows you to tell me about the programs and/or jobs that you are applying to, for us to talk about your application process, and for you to get a feel for the kind of letter I will be able to write for you.
Finally, if I have already written a similar kind of letter for you, future letters take less time, and I need less notice. In this case, 10 days notice is sufficient. However, if you are asking for a new kind of letter (say, you previously asked for an internship letter and now you are asking for a graduate letter) make sure to give me the full three weeks.
Once we have met, and you are sure that you want me to write a letter, please send me the following documents over email three weeks prior to your due dates:
Many students are often shy about including some of these materials (especially standardized test scores if they are low). However, they allow me to write you the best letter that I can. If, for example, I see that you have a low quantitative GRE score, but you have taken a quantitative class with me and done very well, I can note that in your letter as reason for an evaluator to discount your GRE.
On a broader scale, your goal in most applications (and especially in graduate school applications) is to present yourself as a coherent and compelling package of skills, attributes, and goals - and your letters are part of that package presentation. Seeing how you are presenting yourself though your materials enables me to buttress that presentation in my letters.
If I have agreed to write you letters, and you have provided me with the above information, you are on my mind and in my calendar. However, sometimes things slip - do not be shy about sending me a reminder one week before and 48 hours before your deadline (in fact, I strongly recommend it). I will email you with a confirmation when I have submitted your letters.
Finally, if I have written you a letter, that means I have invested a significant amount of time into trying to help you get into a career, internship, or graduate program. (Not to mention the amount of time I likely had you as a student or advisee.) Let me know how the applications go, if you got in, and where you will be attending school/accepting a job!