Lars Perner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing
Department of Marketing, Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0443
Phone: (213) 740-7127 Cell: (213) 304-17264



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Some Notes on Letters of Reference

With sufficient advance notice, sufficient information, and a demonstration of motivation on your part, I am glad to provide letters of reference if you would like to apply for graduate school, study abroad, scholarships, employment, or if you need a letter for other purposes.  Although I do tell the truth, I will do the best I can to write a letter that represents a fair assessment of your abilities.  Please note thatr requests based on incomplete and/or superficial answers are more likely to be denied.

Due in part to the amount of work involved in writing these letters, many professors tend to use a "fill-in-the-blank" general letter where little more than the student's name is varied.  Experienced readers will frequently spot such letters immediately, and as a result, they are likely to be given little weight.  My letter will therefore be more credible if I can mention something specific about you so that it is evident that the letter was actually written individually for you--the more specific this information is, the better.  For example, you might suggest that I mention:

    • A specific case or paper that you wrote exceptionally well
    • Exceptional participation in class discussions in a particular area
    • Experiences--e.g., study abroad--that have enhanced your perspectives in specific ways that I can mention
    • Exceptional writing abilities (if true as evidenced by your work)

When asking for a letter, please  fill out the form below.  If have not graduated and/or if you still live in the area, in addition to filling out this form, you are generally expected to come by my office to discuss:

    • What you are applying for
    • Any known criteria used by evaluators
    • Specific information about you as discussed above
    • Anything else you would like me to mention

Please bring a copy of your resume, application forms, and any work samples that you may still have.Some graduate programs believe that "confidential" letters--which the applicant does not get to see--allow for a greater candor in evaluations, and allow you to sign a waiver of the right to see the letter.  Doing this may lead to a more favorable evaluation of the letter.  However, I personally do not believe in "secret" letters and will provide you with a copy regardless of whether you waive your right to see it or not.  You are encouraged to review this letter for accuracy before the letter is sent off.Please provide me with the following information:




Mailing address:


Course(s) you took from me: 

Institution at which you took the course(s): 

Major while taking my course(s): 

Term(s) (quarter or semester) you took the course(s): 

Did you attend in their entirety--that is, without arriving late or leaving early--at least 85% of classes?

If "no" or "not sure," please discuss any extenuating circumstances:


What are you seeking the letter for? 





Institution(s) or other recipient(s).  If you are not providing an official form, please include complete address(es). Even if the form will be sent in by you, a letter with an inside address looks more professional and may be given more weight. PLEASE BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE MAILING ADDRESS FOR THE RECIPIENT EVEN IF FINDING IT REQUIRES SIGNIFICANT EFFORT.



If you are not providing me with reference forms already providing this information, please describe the nature of the program or job you are applying for:


Why have you decided to ask me--as opposed to other professors or professional contacts--to write this letter?


Please discuss your own assessment of your performance in my class(es).  If you performed less well than you had hoped, are there any circumstances that may explain this?


Are there any project(s) or assignments on which you did especially well in my classes?  Please describe:


Will you provide these actual assignments for me to refresh my memory?  If so, please list which one(s):


Please discuss your career goals and/or reasons for interest in any program for which you are applying.  If this information is available online, you can provide a link:



If applicable, how would you benefit from completing this program?


What can you contribute to this program, employer, or other recipient that would make you valuable to have?


Are there any academic or professional accomplishments not directly related to my course(s) that you would like me to mention?


Would you like me to mention personality or character issues in particular?



In 100 words or less, why do you believe the program(s) for which you are applying should accept you?


If this is for a study abroad program and you have not addressed this already, which countries/cities are you most interested in? Why?



Is there anything else that you would like me to mention?  Please be as specific as possible.


How will you provide your resume, work samples, application forms, and other materials? 


Some programs ask applicants to provide a statement or one or more essays discussing their life plans and/or other issues that are relevant to their applications.  If you have been asked to prepare such essay(s), please paste them




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