You are asking someone else to pitch for you and that pitch is going to be a deciding factor for your admission to your dream university, there’s no way you’re not anxious about this!
The Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is one of the most important documents for your admissions abroad, even a statement of purpose or admission essays might be optional in some universities but LOR is a mandatory document required to be submitted by almost all the universities.
The LOR is a summarization of comprehensive insight into your candidature. It gives a clearer, more favorable picture of your experience and achievements to the admissions officer. It also allows your supervisor to endorse your skills and contributions while helping the university get a better picture of your personality and expertise.
The LOR format and the recommenders required might vary depending on the university you’re applying to and the course that you wish to study but there are few key things to keep in mind.
This blog discusses the format, components, dos and don’ts and, tips to get an effective LOR for your masters abroad. So let’s begin!
Who should you get the recommendation letter from?
When universities ask for one or two LORs, who to choose as your referee is one of the first questions that pop into your head. Asking the appropriate person to write your LOR is crucial and the usual choices for a student who wishes to pursue a master’s degree abroad are professors, guides or former employers.
Let us further break it down to pick out the perfect fit for you:
1. You want to pursue a master’s abroad, it is only logical to pick someone who can comment on your academic performance, skills and learnings, this is why your professors are almost a seamless fit to be referees. LORs from Head of the Department or professors with PhD or MPhil are definitely more impactful. It is advised to prioritize permanent professors over temporary or ad-hoc professors as referees or make sure their tenure doesn’t expire before/during the admission process.
2. Guides or Mentors you have closely worked with on a project or research can also be referees. However, it is important that you must have worked with them for a minimum of 6 months to be considered reliable choices.
3. Your employer can also be your referee since they are familiar with your working practices and can vouch for your work ethic. LOR from the employer has more gravitas to it when it comes from a position of power, for example, a senior manager or director. It is advised to prioritize academic instructors over employers as it makes more sense when applying for a master’s degree, unless it has been over 2-3 years since you completed your graduation.
Contents of the recommendation letter:
The four main components to be included in a good LOR are as follows:
1. The first line should explain the recommender’s relationship with the student/applicant.
2. Following that, the referee’s assessment of the applicant’s skills, range of ability and interests.
3. It’s crucial to mention student’s achievement, academic or otherwise, in LOR as it highlights the student’s competence.
4. Lastly, a paragraph explaining the reasons for recommending the applicant to the university or for the scholarship. A few lines to answer why the university should accept the student will be helpful.
Tips to get an effective LOR:
1. Important points to be covered: The recommendation letter is a validation for the resume you have developed and the skills you have acquired to currently attain the position you are in. Thus, it is vital to include all the achievements, proofs of positive work and extra-curricular activities (if any ) to help you stand out from the pool of applicants.
2. Format of the LOR: The letter of recommendation needs to be short (about half to three-quarters of a page), crisp and to the point to have a greater impact upon reading. If it is lengthy or elaborate, there are chances the admissions team might not read it till the end.
3. Highlight the applicant’s qualities: The LOR will have more impact if it consists of comparisons backed with true examples. The LOR is strengthened when the referee can provide relevant examples of your skills that might profit the university when you join. This allows the student to stand out from the rest of the applicants.
4. Avoid repetitive information: A recommendation letter should avoid mentioning any grades or scores of competitive tests as the student is already submitting their transcripts. Unless the referee has been specifically asked to interpret any academic details or results, repeating this information is a big no.
The admission committee uses LORs to filter the most promising candidates out of a pool of equally qualified students. So, it’s absolutely necessary to select someone you share a great rapport with and also have the authority and designation to recommend a student and you are good to go!
At Jamboree, for over 16 years, we have helped several students in their journey to their dream university. Connect with us now for a free 15- minute session if you want us to review your LORs and draft your application essays.