How to prepare a "letter of recommendation"?

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If you are wondering what part you have to play in preparing a “letter of recommendation”, then you need to know that you part is major. Even if your professor will write the letter of recommendation, we will discuss what part you need to play so that your “letter of recommendation” stands out.

As you already know that “letter of recommendation” is one of the most important ways you can prove the worthiness of your candidature, by virtue of it you would be able to get access to the top class universities in US and other countries.

While most of the guides will talk about how to write the “letter of recommendation” we would try to point out the Dos and Don’ts of LOR. Not only that, we will also provide information about how to write a great “letter of recommendation” so that you can discuss with your professor about the same and help him/her write a beautiful piece of letter for you.

To begin with, first let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do to write a great “Letter of Recommendation.”

Don’ts - Things you shouldn't do while writing a  “Letter of Recommendation.”

Writing the letter by your own

This is one of the biggest mistakes you would make while preparing a letter of recommendation. If you are not confident about the availability of professors who can recommend you, just keep looking. You would find the perfect guide and lecturer who will write the kind of letter of recommendation you would expect to be written. Thus, it is always better to have enough time in your hand while applying for MS. Enough time will help you find the right professor and the task would become much easier.

Making a wrong choice

While searching for the right professor, most students make a wrong choice in deciding who should write the letter of recommendation for them. But it is a costly mistake. Because if the professor is not aware of your candidature or doesn’t know you personally, it would be difficult for him/her to write about you.

You should choose someone who knows you personally, at least took more than one semester and are confident about you, your skills and candidature. Along with that if the professor belongs to the similar subject you are applying for in your MS, then nothing would be better than that. The final piece of advice in choosing the right professor is to have enough time in your hand so that you don’t need to rush to find out someone quickly. Most of the time hasty decision turns out to be the wrong one.

Vague language

Most of the professors use language which don’t describe their students clearly. “Brilliant”, “amazing”, “wonderful” are the adjectives they use to describe their students. But what you need to make sure that your recommender doesn’t use such language. Using vague language will create ambiguity and will affect your candidature in a wrong way.

Using no examples

While most professors use brilliant words to describe their students, most miss out on giving examples. The best way to do that is to talk about a particular quality of a student by citing a particular example. It should not be in length, rather should be brief and concise to convey the theme. Using examples will help the letter of recommendation stand out in the crowd and make the candidature of the student worthy in the eyes of the admission manager at foreign universities.

Now after discussing the “Don’ts”, it’s time to look at what you should do to make the most of the letters of recommendation.

Dos - Things you should do while writing a  “Letter of Recommendation.”

Approach the professor directly

For MS, you need to submit total 3 letters of recommendations. If you have thought that you would email your professors to get the letters of recommendation, most professors dislike the idea as it suggests that you lack interest and you don’t want to pay enough respect to the professors. You may also think about calling them via phone.

It is a good option if you and your professors don’t live in the same city or there is reasonable distance between two of you. You also shouldn’t fax them. Rather, the best option is always to meet them personally and share your goals and desires. It will help your professor to articulate a brilliant piece of recommendation which will further facilitate you in your career.

Provide your professor/s all the required documents

There are many students in the class and even if you are the one who ranked, still it would be difficult for your professor to remember everything about your achievements and candidature. Thus, it’s prudence to submit all the required documents needed to write the letter of recommendation.

For example, you should submit an updated copy of resume, a copy of all your transcripts with explanation of particular events like year-gap (if any), a personal information sheet, any form that the professor will ask you to fill up, personal contact details and a cover letter describing what kind of program you are applying to and all the required details. Take time while arranging the documents because one mistake in arranging or writing the details can affect your candidature negatively.

The professor should know who you are and what you want

It’s always advisable to choose professors who have taken classes for you for more than one semester and where you also ranked among top 5. No professor would give a letter of recommendation if you cannot prove that you have the merit to be praised and to be sent to the university you are seeking to take admission.

And it is also important to explain your professor that what you would like to have in the letter of recommendation. Letter of recommendation can be of varied types. But mention clearly your needs, goals, desires and aspirations. It would help the professor to know who you are and what you would expect from the professor. And lastly make sure that whenever you approach the professor, s/he has at least PhD in the said subject. It is always better to approach the Principal or the HOD of that particular subject.

Notes about how to write a great “letter of recommendation”

  • A letter of recommendation would include firstly about you, how the professor knows you and how good you are in your academic subject.
  • Then the letter should describe about your skills with citable examples so that your candidature would stand out.
  • After citing the skills and examples, the professor should mention about your research, publications (if any) with brief explanation.
  • Once that is done, the professor should talk about your character and give you a positive certificate.
  • Finally, the professor would recommend you for being a student of merit for the said course you are applying for.

In the final analysis, you need to remember that a letter of recommendation would be written differently for different countries. If it is written for US universities, there should be no mention about your weaknesses; the whole letter should be positive and will only cite you as a brilliant student and human being.

For other countries, weaknesses can be mentioned but it should be subtle and should not hurt the candidature of a student. Cultural diversity acts as a big factor and it affects the attitude of the admission manager (from the country s/he belongs) about a letter of recommendation. So, better you be aware of it.

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