Career Center


Career Center
315-859-4332 (fax)

Graduate School

Recommendation Letters

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a recommendation file?

A confidential, convenient, and secure depository for your letters of recommendation.

Why do I need letters of recommendation?

Though great letters of recommendation will not secure you a job or get you into graduate school by themselves, they are an important component of the application, especially when many candidates have similar qualifications. Letters of recommendation can:

  • refer to specific academic skills which you have developed;
  • provide evidence to support your essay or personal statement;
  • "round out" your personality to the reader by providing information about your interpersonal style, work style, motivation, or special qualities that you would bring to the school or profession; and
  • highlight your potential for success.

Whom should I ask to write letters on my behalf?

You should ask those faculty and/or employers (present or former) who know you best and can comment on your academic and personal qualities as they relate to the job or graduate school.

Should the letter be general or specific?

If you are certain of your career goal and plan to use the letter only for that goal, it should be written specifically in support of that goal. If you are unclear as to your future plans, you may ask for a general letter of reference to be kept in your file for potential future use. Keep in mind that a letter written for a specific purpose may not be useful in the future should your goals change.

What happens to my Letters of Recommendation that are currently on file at the Career Center?

If you established a recommendation file prior to January 1, 2008, your documents will be forwarded to Interfolio when you complete and return the Credential File Transfer Request form (We need the link to insert here.). Your files are governed by federal law, The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (OK 93-380) which states that your letters of recommendation may not be sent without your written consent. The law also provides you that you must either:

  • WAIVE your right of access to individual letters, thereby giving up your right to review them and making them CONFIDENTIAL; or
  • RETAIN your right of access, hereby making the letters NONCONFIDENTIAL (open for your inspection.)

How do I decide if I want to waive my right of access to recommendations?

Conventional wisdom has it that most graduate and professional schools greatly prefer confidential letters, those for which you have waived your right of access, because the writer may be more candid and, therefore, more helpful. Some faculty will write letters only when the student has waived right of inspection, so you should discuss this up front with the writers. However, it is your choice. FERPA further provides that once you have waived your right of access and the letter has been put on file, you may not reverse your preference.

Still have questions?

You can access Interfolio 24/7 at www.interfolio.com or email help@interfolio.com. A customer service representative can be reached at 877-77-FOLIO, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.