Letters of Reference

Policy and Procedures on Student Letters of Reference

Because students require recommendation letters for everything from Writing-Associate to Graduate-School applications, I receive numerous requests to write them.  I will cheerfully write letters for my students, since I regularly need such letters myself from colleagues and senior scholars, and because you can’t write these letters for yourself.

If you would like to request a letter of reference from me, please write me an email that includes the following information:

1) background (so I can write a convincing letter)

a) Please list coursework, theses, internships, EXCEL scholarships that have Paul Barclay listed as the Instructor/Advisor.  For each item, please include the following, where applicable:

i) Semester, Year

ii) Grade in course (s)

iii) Noteworthy projects, papers, essays, contributions, or exams.

b) If you graduated from Lafayette years ago, please add:

i) Photo (that looks like you in your student days)

ii) Updated Resume/c.v.

2) clear instructions

When is the deadline?

Please let me know this up front, even if for some reason it is last-minute.

Is this an on-line recommendation form?

If so, make it clear to me that I will be contacted by the organization via email after you give them permission to contact me.

Does a hard-copy of the letter and a form go directly to the organization that requested the letter?

If so, then make sure I have the correct address on the form.  The History department has envelopes and stamps. If you require a hard-copy be sent somewhere, I only need your signed form, the instructions, and an address (which is usually on the form).  Put these in my mailbox in the history department office. We will send them from there.

Do you require a sealed envelope that you will later include in an application packet?

If so, I will complete the letter, sign and seal it, and mail it to you (give me an address—we have stamps and envelopes). I can also leave a signed/sealed envelope in my mailbox at Ramer for you to pick up for yourself.


If your past performance in my classes has been less-than-praiseworthy, and I cannot write a positive letter on your behalf in good conscience, I will let you know.  I will not write a damaging letter—I would prefer that you seek letters elsewhere in such cases.


I’m glad to help out with letters.  To write these letters, I need concrete information about your accomplishments in order to write convincing and helpful letters.  Lastly, it is important that I know what to do with these letters, and when, to make sure they arrive at their correct destinations on time.


Paul D. Barclay

updated 9/16/2012

pdf version


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