Letter of Recommendation
Because a letter of recommendation may include information from the student's academic record, and is itself considered part of the student's academic record, writing a letter of recommendation is not as straightforward as you might think. Key considerations are discussed below, but first review these terms.
- Personally identifiable information from the student's education record
This is non-directory information such as student courses, course schedules, grades, GPA information, etc.
- Personal knowledge of the student
Your observations on such matters as the student's work ethic, punctuality, reliability, creativity, cooperation, etc. This excludes personally identifiable information from the student's education record.
The student's permission for you to include personally identifiable education record information in the letter.
The student's consent to waive his/her right to ever view your letter.
- Request for Letter of Recommendation
For your convenience, a form for requesting a letter of recommendation has been developed. It contains pertinent student and recipient information sections as well as release and waiver sections. Further discussion references this form.
Ask the student needing a letter to complete the Request for Letter of Recommendation. In guiding the student through the form, consider the following:
Does the student have a confidentiality flag set in the Banner system? If Yes, the student must give you permission to write a letter ( by completing the form), whether it will contain personally identifiable information from the student's education record or not.
Release of the Student's Education Record Information
Is the student willing to have student education record to be included in the letter? Have the student indicate Yes or No in the Release portion of the form.
If Yes, he/she should specify what information can be included; your letter may then include the specified information as well as your personal knowledge of the student.
If No, your letter may include only your personal knowledge of the student.
Waiver of Student Right to Review Letter
Since the letter of recommendation becomes part of the student's education record, which under FERPA the student has a right to view, he/she would be able to view the letter in the future.
If you don't mind the student's seeing the letter, have the student indicate, "NO. I do NOT waive my right to review a copy of the letter at any time in the future."
If you do mind, ask the student to waive his/her right to review by indicating, "YES. I waive my right to review."
A student’s waiving his/her right to review letters of recommendation on our campus does not apply to a receiving institution. If the student does not waive his/her right to review letters of recommendation at the receiving institution, the letter may be viewed by the student as part of the education record there.
Processing the Form
Have the student sign and date the form; then make a copy for your records. When you have written the letter, send a copy of it and the student release to the Registrar's Office to be imaged as part of the student's education record.