Letter of Recommendation – A Crucial Document for Applying to a Foreign University

Posted on April 29, 2015 by Akshay Study Abroad in Applications, Study Abroad

How to get an Effective Recommendation Letter

It would be ideal to secure a recommendation letter as soon as possible after an applicant has completed a course or an independent study project, when he/ she and his/ her work are still fresh in the recommender’s consciousness.

If an applicant wishes to obtain a letter from a recommender with whom he/she studied a year or so earlier in the past, or who taught him/ her in a large lecture course, the applicant must spend a little time talking with that recommender about his/ her work in the course, his/ her general undergraduate program, and his/ her scholarly interests, to refresh the recommender’s mind. The more specific a recommendation letter, the greater the weight it tends to carry.

An applicant must try and choose recommenders who can provide a well-written letter, knows him/ her well enough to be credible, thinks highly of him/ her and his/ her abilities and holds a respected position. Thus, it is advisable to choose a recommender who has taught the applicant in subjects he/she found challenging but nonetheless worked extremely hard or choose a recommender who has taught him/ her in the areas of study an applicant would like to pursue in college.

A good choice may also be a professor who taught a small or intense course in which an applicant interacted with that professor regularly. In addition, faculty members with whom an applicant did research or from whom the applicant took a few courses may be strong prospects, as well. The more relevant your relationship with the writer is to the field to which you are applying, the more convincing the letter will be to the admissions committee reviewing your application.

Although gifts are not necessary, remember to send thank you notes to recommenders to express your gratitude.

Some Useful Reference Material and Insights into Writing

You may go through the following links for tips/ formats/ samples:

http://careers.tufts.edu/faculty/writing_recommendations.pdf
http://www.writeexpress.com/recommendation-letters.html
https://meridianlrc.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/letter-of-recommendation-essentials/
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/icb.topic58474/Verba-recs.html
http://www.usief.org.in/pdf/Study_in_the_Us/Handout-UG/10-Tips-for-Recommendation-Letters.pdf
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/your-high-school-record/how-to-get-a-great-letter-of-recommendation

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