Friday, August 7, 2015

How to Build Your Academic References

Many students when entering university don’t think about whether or not they’ll need a reference for the future. You may feel shy or unmotivated to want to take the initiative, but academic reference can play an important part for your future. Academic references can not only be used for Graduate or Professional school, but may also may be required by many employers. Here are some tips that can help you start talking to your professors to get a reference.

Class Participation:
It may seem like a small thing, but raising your hand in class to answer questions can go a long way. Especially if you are in a class of hundreds it’s easy to forget who you are, but by actively participating you are not only showing initiative but interest in the course. By doing this a professor will be more able to recognize you when you’re attending their office hours for help or even asking them for a reference.       

Ask Questions if You Need Help:
Many students do not realize the importance of actually attending a professors office hours. If you need help on an assignment, report or exam coming up; try approaching your professor for help. It will not only assist you if you were struggling to understand a certain concept or need clarity, but it will also allow the professor to become familiar with you. I know personally, many professors are really friendly and helpful in person and may even provide hints or advice you didn’t receive in class.

Network, Get to Know Them:
If you are taking a course that you find really interested in discuss with the professor about it. Many professors are very open to talking to students to get their perspective on the course but to also explain their current or past research. You not only will learn more about a topic you are interested in, but you will allow the professor to become familiar with you. Also if some research or TA opportunities may come up in the future as well which a professor may be more likely to tell you about it they know you.

How to Ask for a Reference?
When the time comes you can approach your professor for a reference be polite and direct. Tell them that it’s for a specific job or for graduate/professional school. Also let them know if they’ll need to write a reference letter or provide any sort of written statement. By giving them advance notice your reference is more likely to say yes, and will provide you with a strong referral. Make sure you give them any required documents (i.e. Resume, Cover Letter, Transcript etc.)

I hope these tips can help you in getting an academic reference. Here’s a tip sheet from our website you may find helpful:
- What is a Reference?

All the Best!
-           James Rebello

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