Policy on Reference Service

The Center for Work and Service (CWS) offers a reference service to students and alumnae applying to graduate and professional school or for employment. Letters of reference received in the CWS are held in your permanent file to be duplicated and mailed upon written request.

As of October 2003, Wellesley College policy prevents the release of a confidential letter of reference to the student or alumna for whom it was written. A confidential reference has a signed waiver form attached to it in which a student or alumna waives her right of access to a letter written on her behalf. A confidential letter of reference will only be sent to an institution, organization, or potential employer at the written request of the student or alumna for whom it was written. (Letters received without a waiver form prior to this date will not be considered confidential.) If this policy is not in accordance with the application instructions for a graduate school, fellowship, or other program, we will include a letter explaining our policy.

  • Undergraduates should request letters of reference from the faculty at least two months in advance of deadlines. Seniors are strongly advised to request faculty references before graduation, regardless of when they may be needed, as faculty will be best able to write a letter that reflects your performance at that time. Similarly, if you are requesting a letter from an employer, be thoughtful about your timing.
  • Read guidelines for Requesting Faculty References before asking a faculty member to write a letter for you.
  • Letter of Reference/Waiver Forms must accompany your letters of reference. Be sure that your name, class year, the date, and your signature are on each form. If you waive your right of access, the document will be stamped "confidential" and you will not be allowed to inspect it. Employers should write references on their own stationery.
  • Each student/alumna is responsible for checking with the CWS to learn whether or not her references are on file and for contacting the referee if they are not.
  • Requests to have letters of reference sent must be submitted on the Reference Order Form. Please provide all information to ensure that your order is processed correctly and on time. Be sure to include both the institution/organization deadline and your deadline, and indicate whether the order will be picked up or mailed (confidential letters will not be released to you). List the name of the individual who has written each reference. Please indicate if the letter is not yet in your file, but will be received in the CWS at a later date.
  • Send to the CWS any forms and envelopes provided by an institution or employer. If the institution does not provide pre-addressed envelopes and the references are to be sent directly to them, address the envelope accordingly. The CWS provides the postage.
  • The fee for undergraduates (through August 30 of the year of graduation) is $5 for a set of up to five references sent to one institution; the alumnae fee for the same service is $8. Requests will not be processed until payment is received. Checks should be made payable to Wellesley College.
  • Requests are processed according to the date received and/or when all letters have been received. We do not fax or send any references by priority mail, UPS or Federal Express. No orders will be processed between December 20 and January 5 or during the month of July when the CWS is closed.
  • Official Wellesley College transcripts containing grades and credit hours are available from the Registrar's Office, 781.283.2307.

If you have any questions, please call 781.283.2442 for general references and 781.283.2347 for law references.

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