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A letter of recommendation (LOR) or Reference letter is a crucial admission particular document that provides admission officers with an idea about the candidate. Understanding the necessity and meaning of LOR by keen observation of LOR samples is crucial to understanding admissions at top-ranking universities. The top-ranking universities across the world receive thousands of LORs every year. Thus, your Letter of recommendation or reference letter needs to stand out from the rest to further your chances of securing admission to your dream university.
Therefore, going through LOR samples becomes the first necessary step. Writing a letter of recommendation can be a daunting task for a first-timer. This post will help you understand the comprehensive meaning of LOR and why is it an important aspect of your application particulars. Also, find a LOR sample in this comprehensive guide that will help you understand better.
A letter of recommendation, also known as a reference letter is a document that provides admission officers with insight into whether the concerned candidate is suitable for a particular post. The post could be a job, an internship, or a Master’s or a PhD degree. Even those seeking to engage in volunteer work at any institute may require a well-drafted recommendation letter.
In any application to secure admission to a university in India or abroad, there are a few vital documents, like a resume, statement of purpose and admission essays. While these are essential in their own right, the recommendation letter is most crucial. This is because it gives credence to your work from a senior or person in authority.
Validation from another person, especially a more experienced person in the field or a person who has worked with you, has a lot of value in academia and the professional world. Their words count as they have personally worked with you and can talk about that experience.
Students willing to study abroad should, thus, be cautious about whom they ask for a letter of recommendation as this document can make or break their career.
Writing a letter of recommendation means stating and corroborating a candidate’s hard and soft skills. Facets like his/her character, work ethic, attitude and the truth of his/her achievements while at that institute are required to be mentioned in a LOR.
Typically, this letter provides only positive details of any candidate and explains to the admission officer why the candidate in question will suit the university culture.
Writing a letter of recommendation is quite intimidating, here are some points to keep in mind before you begin drafting a perfect LOR sample for your application.
To receive an impressive letter of recommendation, you should ask someone you have a good bond with or someone who has a good impression of you.
Students can approach teachers, professors, former bosses or managers, with whom they have an excellent rapport, to write the recommendation letter.
After you have made your request, remember to provide the person all the details about yourself. The details must include the highlights of your career, the details of the job, the nature of the post/degree, and a template or sample so they can organise their thoughts accordingly.
Given a busy schedule, one may not find time to do justice with the letter of recommendation; so give them a week at least before you expect the letter.
A professor from undergraduate years usually writes a letter of recommendation for master. Either the head of the department or the course lecturer will have to write the letter. Sometimes, the letter can be written by former employers. You can even ask teachers from your school to write the letter provided it is in the same subject.
For every Master’s program, there is usually a pre-set format and stringent rules. A point to note is that you do not ask someone you do not know to write the recommendation letter. The person should be suitably aware of your work and contribution in the field.
Letter of recommendation or LORs is of four common types. Based on academic, rental, professional and personal purposes, different LOR samples are drafted. Following are the four common LOR sample types:
Candidates willing to apply to a university abroad and pursue quality education need to acquire academic letters of recommendation from their professors.
Typically, a recommendation letter should include five things. These are as follows:
To write a perfect draft of your LOR sample for applications, take a look at this process more closely.
You may have to find out how to address the person to whom you are writing. If you do not know, go for “To whom it may concern”. In case you do not give the salutation, you can start with the first paragraph of the LOR directly.
The first paragraph should talk about how you know the person and why you are qualified to write this recommendation letter. Give details of your qualifications and experience.
For example, “As a senior professor with over ten years of experience in research and undergraduate teaching, I have come across many students. My experience and insight qualify me to recommend [Name of person] to you. I have worked for five years at the University of [give name] and five years at [give Name]. My experience includes research in [name field/s], and my areas of interest are [name fields].”
The second section should talk about a candidate’s strengths—personal or related to work. You must write depending on the nature of the recommendation, and hence, be as specific as possible.
For example, “[Name of person] is an intelligent and capable person, who is diligent in his work and meticulous to a fault. He has been a part of the project of STEM cell research and contributed to it immensely, taking responsibility for more work than allotted. His dedication and passion for the subject are commendable.”
The third paragraph should include a short story or incident about the candidate that can highlight his/her skills. Typically, the incident should have opened your eyes to the true potential of the candidate.
For example, “It was during [Name of person] ‘s second year that I witnessed the capabilities of this individual. When we were stuck trying to find out why the cells reacted in such a novel way, [Name of individual] came up with a solution that opened up a whole new way of thinking for the entire team.”
End the LOR with a simple statement about why you think the person is a good fit for the institute. It would help if you recommended them in all honesty.
For example, “[Name of the individual] is highly recommended to take up this degree course at your prestigious university since he is highly motivated and takes on a lot of work. He is also a considerate co-worker and enjoys training juniors and is a patient ear for colleagues.”
Following these steps, a letter of recommendation can be easily constructed.
Here is a LOR sample of a Master’s program in computer science.
Professor January Jones
Department of Computer Science,
University of Toronto,
12 Oak Street,
Dear Professor Jones,
I am pleased to recommend Miss Lydia Roy to a position in your Master’s program at the University of Toronto. I have known Lydia for six years since her undergraduate days at the University of Calgary. Our association started when she took up a Data Science course under my supervision for a period of six months.
After that, we became friends through our shared love for computer science, and she again took up work under me for her final year project. After these four years of undergraduate work, we continued to remain associated, even when she went to work for Google in the spring of 2019. After two years, she wanted to switch to academics again, and hence, began the process of applying for Master’s programs. The University of Toronto was her top choice. As a professor for twenty years, having had hundreds of students trained under me, I believe I have the right to write a suitable recommendation letter to you.
Even when she was at the University of Calgary, I noticed she possessed a keen insight into people. She was an excellent people’s person, a close confidante of many friends and a leader of the class. At one time, she also ran for the president of the student’s union but had to be content with the Treasurer’s role. Her love for mixing technology with people turned her interests in the direction of social media and digital marketing. Many times, she discussed with me how the digital platform could be harnessed to make a common marketplace for the world. Her desire to unite people and create a virtual world where people could earn their money in a fair manner challenges the trickle-down economics of the present day.
Apart from her interests, she is also a diligent worker and an excellent computer programmer. She has worked in several domains including cloud computing, networking and data science. Her knowledge of the field is extensive, and she retains remarkably well. Her many varied interests make her a valuable asset in the research field. Since she intends to pursue building a digital market place, I highly recommend her to your program as you too are interested in bridging the human-computer divide. It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I give my sincere recommendation.
Every letter of recommendation comes with a specific set of guidelines. These guidelines revolve around the date of submission, the format (PDF or physical letter), or the manner of writing it.
The admission officer may need to contact the person who wrote the LOR at any stage of the interview. He may do so to verify details or ask for additional information. Hence, you should enclose your phone numbers, address and email IDs.
Unless there is a section about the person’s negatives, refrain from talking about it. The goal of a letter of recommendation is to make the candidate stand out in the crowd.
While an in-depth Freudian analysis of the candidate is not required, identify a minimum of four primary traits and two secondary ones. For each attribute, explain with an example of how it is beneficial in a professional or educational setting, as per the scenario.
Avoid grammatical mistakes, spelling and punctuation errors. Read the letter of recommendation a couple of times and edit it for mistakes. The letter reflects on you as well, so make sure it is worthy.
Ask the candidate for some pointers that can be given more weightage in the LOR.
A letter of recommendation shows how the candidate is suitable for the job or the particular degree. Try to incorporate some of the key terms from the description itself so that the admission officer can directly relate between the candidate’s skill set and the requirements of the course.
It would help if you discuss the candidate’s future potential and how they can benefit the organisation. Describe adequately the person’s passion for that field and how they will be an asset to the institution.
For an impactful and powerful letter of recommendation, utilise active voice. It makes for an easier read. Also, it is possible to write more unambiguous sentences.
Follow these easy and simple tips and write a solid letter of recommendation that stands out of from the rest.
For solid advice and streamlined guidance on how to curate a stand-out LOR, students can turn to LeapScholar. It is a one-stop platform that is dedicated to helping eligible students fulfil their dreams to study abroad. Besides assisting with writing LORs and SOPs, the platform also provides affordable education loans and scholarships. Thus, students needn’t hold back anymore due to the lack of funds with LeapScholar and its network of India’s best study abroad experts.
Having covered all the necessary and crucial aspects of a letter of recommendation, it should now be hassle-free to write this document. Never lie while writing a recommendation letter as the person reading it will usually verify the claims and cross-check every detail. Also, do not exaggerate as that can be tested at the interview level. Always write with a clear conscience and choose your words wisely.
Ans: To get a letter of recommendation from your college, approach the professor in charge of your department. Also, you can talk to any college professor that you have worked with in the past. If you are in your undergraduate years, approach the professors you have a friendly rapport. On the other hand, if you are currently pursuing a postgraduate degree, talk to the professor in charge of your concerned department. You do not have to go to any academic cell or principal’s office to get the same.
Ans: You will require at least 2-3 letters of recommendation for an MS in the USA. They must be academic, and the number may vary depending on the university you apply for. An academic letter of recommendation has to be written by someone who knows your work well and can easily find ways to talk about your achievements.
Ans: You will need to provide at least 2-3 letters of recommendation for MS in the UK. Always choose someone who knows the work you have done and is familiar with it. The person should also be favourable to you and must have a reasonable opinion on you.
Ans: A letter of recommendation provides an insight into your skills, expertise, career and knowledge from a third person’s perspective. Hence, a LOR gives candid and honest views into your work and personal lives. Apart from the statement of purpose, it is the only document that corroborates your work and passion for the degree or field of study in question.