Friday, September 18, 2015

Preparing Your Application: Letters of Recommendation

This is the first in a blog series discussing best practices for preparing your application for Johns Hopkins SAIS.  Today, we'll be covering Letters of Recommendation.

The Johns Hopkins SAIS application process requires two (2) letters of recommendation, but we allow applicants to submit up to three letters of recommendation.  All letters of recommendation have to be submitted via the Apply Yourself recommendation system, so you'll need to start your application ahead of time to get your references and their contact info into the system, so they can get started on your reference letters.

Many potential students ask us, who should write my letters?  Should they be professional, or academic?  One of each?

First things first: we don't have a preference for one type over another.  Rather than acquiring specific types of recommendations, you should look to solicit letters of recommendations from individuals who can best speak to your suitability as a international relations professional.  For those who have been out of school for a few years, that may mean all your recommendations are professional.  If you're younger, that might mean all your recommendations are academic in nature.

When you approach someone about writing a recommendation letter for you, make sure they know about the program.  Be prepared to tell them why Johns Hopkins SAIS interests you, and why it's a good fit for you.  If you want them to focus on specific items in the recommendation, make sure they know.  If you haven't seen this individual in some time, you may want to spend some time catching up, and filling him or her in on what you've been doing lately, and what you plan to do after graduate school.  You may want to give them a copy of your resume to consider as they are writing the recommendation.

You should also ask them well in advance.  You never know how many other people are asking them for letters of recommendation, and you need to give your recommender enough time to write a strong recommendation--you definitely don't want them rushing through it!

To start your online application, and to start the recommendation process, visit the How to Apply section of our website.

Thanks for reading!
Erin Skelly, Associate Director of Admissions

Do you have any questions about the recommendation process?  Ask us below in the comments section!

More in this series
Class Visits
Statement of Purpose
Standardized Tests
The Analytical Essay