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Instructions for Reference Letter Writers

Thank you for agreeing to write a letter of reference for a student applying to the master's of arts program in speech-language pathology at the University of Kansas. The admissions committee uses a holistic admissions process. Thus, we are looking for specific information in your letter to complement the other information we will receive in the student's application.

To save you time and focus your letter, please do not comment on the following items, which will already be present in the application, unless you are providing context to help us interpret those items (e.g., GPA may be lower than others because the student has been working full-time; grade in your class was the top grade for the semester).

  1. Grades in specific classes
  2. Overall GPA
  3. GPA in the major
  4.  GRE scores
  5. Student activities (will be listed on student's résumé)

Instead, please focus your letter on the following topics, which will not be evident from other items in the application. Quality is more important than letter length. Focus on the applicant, rather than details about the lab, course, assignment, job, or institution. Finally, please provide an accurate assessment of the applicant's suitability for graduate study and for a career as a speech-language pathologist. None of our applicants is perfect. We are looking for an accurate assessment of each student's strengths and weaknesses so that we can determine if our program is the best fit for the student.

  1. Briefly explain your relationship with the applicant:
    a.    How long have you know the applicant?
    b.    In what capacity have you interacted with the applicant?
    c.    How would you compare this student to others? Please be specific about the comparison group (e.g., students in the class you taught, students in your department, other student employees you supervise) and provide a rationale for your final comparison.

  2. Document unique contributions to the incoming class:
    a.    Describe obstacles that the applicant had to overcome, and if applicable, how those obstacles led to new learning and growth.
    b.    Explain how the applicant may contribute to the program's and the field's diversity, broadly defined (e.g., background, attributes, experiences, etc.).
    c.    Note. If you write about any information that could be considered potentially sensitive, confirm with the applicant that s/he is comfortable with the inclusion of that information.

  3. Describe core, entry-level competencies: Describe how the applicant has, or has not, demonstrated any of the following competencies important for graduate study and a career as an SLP. Only comment on areas that you have had opportunity to observe.
    a.    Academic ability and preparation: How does the student demonstrate a firm foundation in core speech-language-hearing (or related) concepts?
    b.    Communication skills: How has the student demonstrated an ability to communicate clearly and effectively in spoken and/or written formats?
    c.    Interpersonal skills: How has the student demonstrated an ability to work collaboratively and effectively with a wide range of people?
    d.    Analytical skills: How has the student demonstrated a firm foundation in research, critical thinking, and/or clinical application?
    e.    Potential for professionalism: How has the student demonstrated an ability to be organized, reliable, and respectful? How has the student demonstrated an ability to grow from constructive feedback?
    f.    Potential for leadership: How has the student demonstrated leadership skills?
    g.    Cultural and linguistic diversity: How has the student demonstrated an understanding of diversity and/or the ability to work effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds that differ from their own? How does the student demonstrate knowledge or proficiency of languages or dialects other than standard American English?

  4. Provide an overall recommendation:
    a.    Academic letter writers: Would you admit this student to your graduate program? Why or why not?
    b.    Non-academic letter writers: Would you want to work with this student once s/he is a practicing speech-language pathologist? Why or why not?

Last modified: Sep 07, 2018
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