In virtually every letter of recommendation I've seen, the final line is something to the effect of "Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions".

But how often is it to actually get contacted? I've never actually received any follow up before, but virtually all the students I write letters for have gotten into the programs of their choice.

Granted, I only tend to write letters for undergraduates applying for scholarships and graduate school (no graduate program for my department) so maybe the likelihood increases for, say, letters written for master's students applying for PhD programs, but I'm curious if this is just happenstance that I've not been contacted or more par the course. (I know we do contact letter writers once we have a short(er) list for job candidates, but I'm thinking here specifically letters written for students who will continue to be students.)

  • But how often is it to actually get contacted? — In almost 20 years of writing recommendation letters for graduate admission, I've been contacted only once. (The student was later admitted.)
    – JeffE
    Jun 5, 2017 at 2:39
  • virtually all the students I write letters for have gotten into the programs of their choice — Wow. What's your secret?!
    – JeffE
    Jun 5, 2017 at 2:39
  • @JeffE Probably dumb luck at this point (on my part, that is. I've been blessed with some really amazing students and student workers who have thought I could contribute something to their applications). I just finished my sixth year, so I'm sure I've got time for some of them not to get in, although knock on wood the success continues. Many have been for med/dental school so I'm sure they didn't get into all the programs they applied to, I just get to hear their excitement at getting accepted somewhere. Jun 5, 2017 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


In my experience as a letter writer and as a member of graduate admissions committees, it's very rare for graduate admissions committees to contact a reference. On the other hand, it's quite common to contact references in hiring situations.


I have never once been contacted for more information about a student recommendation, but I always include the offer.

My reason for including the offer is that the letter is really an explanation of my support for the student (I would not write a letter for a person that I do not support), and an important aspect of that support is being willing to provide any information useful for the case at hand. If I do my job as a writer well, then I anticipate what will be useful in advance and the recipient shouldn't need to ask me anything---but a very relevant piece of information is that I care about the student enough to be willing to invest more time in their case if that would be useful.

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