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Letters of recommendation

I am happy to provide letters of evaluation to students who request them. Please make an appointment so that we can discuss your plans, and how I can best assist you. Please understand that I write these letters for many people, so I need your help in locating information about you. It is acceptable to ask for many letters of recommendation, provided you take care of all the routine information that is requested. I will inform you when I have sent letters; but please check with me close to the deadlines if you haven't heard from me. For maximum efficiency, I need the following things from you (hard copy, and all in one clearly labeled package, either electronic or hard copy, as you prefer):

  • An unofficial copy of your transcript.
    Mark the courses you took from me. Mostly you will have taken a course from me this term or last term that I remember well, but you may also have taken one from me last year ... or was it the year before?
  • Your statement of purpose, and any other information you think might be helpful.
  • One single page that lists the names of the departments and schools to which you are applying, the deadline dates, and whether the recommendation is to be submitted online using a special system, or by email or overland mail. This is my record of the letters I have sent, and when they were sent.
  • If the recommendation is to be submitted online and the university will request input from me by email, please note that. Requests for recommendations are sometimes caught by a spam filter. I keep my spam file very low and check it often, but sometimes these requests do get missed. Please make sure as much information about me as possible is entered on your electronic application, otherwise I spend much time filling in routine things like name, address, title (see below).
  • If the recommendation is to be submitted by email/snail mail on forms that you obtain from the university, please supply those forms, have filled in routine things like my name, address, title (see below). Sometimes, there are no forms, and only a letter is requested: if so, please note that.
  • Sign the waiver of access on each recommendation form (paper or electronic). If there is no place for such a waiver on the paper form, obtain a waiver of access form for each application from the OSU Physics Office. Fill it out and include it in your package. I do not write letters unless they are confidential.
  • Fill in the portion of any form that requests routine information about me:
    Name: Janet Tate
    Title: Professor of Physics
    Department: Physics
    Institution: Oregon State University
    Address: 301 Weniger Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-6507
    email: tate@physics.oregonstate.edu
    phone: (541) 737-1700
    fax: (541) 737-1683
  • Adhesive labels with the addresses typed or neatly printed on them. Stamps and envelopes are not necessary. If you wish to supply envelopes, obtain OSU envelopes from the Physics Office, or use pre-printed envelopes provided by the school to which you are applying (write the OSU return address on these). Some schools give applicants the option of submitting all the recommendations along with their applications. I prefer to send the recommendation directly to the school.

Applications for REU programs, Grad Schools, and jobs are really important. I, along the rest of the faculty, want to help you as much as possible, but we merely report what we know. Here's how to help generate a good report: Go often to a faculty member's office hours to discuss physics. Ask questions in class. Volunteer answers in class. Be actively engaged in class. Make an effort to make your homework and lab assignments well written, tidy, logically clear and display a feeling for the important physics in the assignment. Keep copies of particularly good assignments and remind the faculty member about them. Attend departmental seminars and colloquia, and discuss them with faculty members. Your letter from your research advisor will be particularly important. Bring your work to your advisor; don't wait to be asked. Make time for discussions with your group members and your advisor. Be active in SPS, and engage in outreach activities that demonstrate your interest in physics.