Letters of Recommendation

Can I write a letter for you? I will gladly write letters of recommendation for people I've worked closely with, but with the huge recent increase in the number of people studying computer science, I am forced to be less automatically generous about this than I have been in the past.

Are you a UTeacher, a lab tutor coordinator, a course manager? I'd be pleased to write a letter for you. The same goes if we've done a successful independent study or other project together, or if you've been a successful lab tutor for a few quarters, or if you're applying to the ICS Honors Program. See the "Guidelines" section below.

If you've just taken one introductory class from me, especially if it was ICS 31, I'm not your best choice as a recommender. You shouldn't pick me just because you think I'm a nice guy and approachable enough to ask. Especially for CS graduate school (and especially for Ph.D. programs in departments that are "better" than ours), you want recommenders who know your work well—preferably advanced, independent, or research-oriented work—and can describe it first-hand. If you've taken an introductory class or two with me and gotten As, that's great, but that doesn't give the recommendation reader much information about how well you'll do at the graduate level. Those Ph.D. program admissions committees want recommenders who can say you've worked on research or other projects and carried them through to completion (brilliantlly, if possible). If your recommendation is going to be based on classwork, it's best that it be upper division classwork in an area you're interested in pursuing in grad school.

Guidelines for the people I'm writing for: Since I've taught large classes for many years, I receive many recommendation requests. If I agree to write you a letter, these guidelines will help me be most effective:

References without letters: I'm also glad to entertain requests to serve as an employment reference or other reference that doesn't require that I write a letter. Most of the same guidelines apply: When you get in touch with me to ask, give me as much information as you can.

Good luck!

David G. Kay, kay@uci.edu