Prof. Readdy's letters of recommendation FAQ

Prof. Readdy's policies regarding letters of recommendation

  1. I will need at least 3 to 4 weeks notice for any letter of recommendation. The less notice I receive from you, the more likely I will say no or submit your letter late.
  2. For undergraduates asking for a letter of recommendation for graduate school/summer REU/scholarship I require a grade of:
    A for students in a large lecture class (50 or more students)
    B or higher for students in smaller classes.

    Exceptions will be made in very special circumstances.
  3. You must waive your right to see my letter. Programs will not take my letter seriously if you have access to it.
  4. If you are worried about something I may write, such as you are consistantly late to class, do not always attend class, you hand in homework late, etc. then you should ask another professor to write you a letter.
  5. Be sure to use my correct email address when you submit your electronic application. Otherwise I will not receive the letter request.
Information I need from you:

A paper and electronic copy of:

  1. Current transcript (unofficial is okay)
  2. CV/resume
  3. Information about the program you are applying to
  4. Due date
  5. Tell me why you are applying and what makes you particularly qualified for this scholarship/summer program/graduate program/etc.
  6. A list of other individual(s) who are writing letters for you. I don't want to replicate items in their letters.
  7. Specific instructions as to where I should submit my letter.
Follow-up from you:

Please remind me one week before the due date that the deadline is drawing near if you have not received an email from your applicant site or an email from me stating that my letter has been submitted. I may have gotten sidelined by some unforeseen emergency, jury duty, or simply just forgot since I have too many other things to juggle at the same time.


Unfortunately students who have been asking me to write letters for them recently simply do not understand that my job entails a lot more than showing up to class and lecturing. A typical professor spends 60 to 70 hours per week preparing classes, lecturing, grading, holding office hours, serving on committees, reading job applications, writing grant proposals, refereeing papers, doing outreach and volunteering.

As a mathematician, I also learn and discover new mathematics which requires me to attend conferences, workshops, give talks and host collaborators. I am very busy.

Please step back and count how many hours you as a student spend per week attending class, studying and doing homework.

Many of my guidelines have been inspired by guidelines from other professors. See the pages of: Keith Conrad, Megumi Harada, Rob Pollack, Tom Roby, and Ravi Vakil.

margaret.readdy at