At first glance, perhaps, it seems to you that letters of recommendation are the easiest part of the application package. You just need to ask a teacher, professor, or supervisor for advice, right? In fact, the preparation of letters of recommendation is a little more complicated, but we will tell you everything you need to know about this part of the application package.
First, it’s important to understand why American universities require letters of recommendation, and what exactly they want to learn from such letters.
Of the letters of recommendation, colleges and universities want to understand what kind of person you are. Numbers – for example, from transcripts or test results – tell only a small part of your story. The members of the selection committee want to know your character, work ethic, and academic ability directly from the one who either taught you or worked with you.
Where to begin?
First of all, you need to carefully look at how many letters Your programs require and from whom letters should be. Usually, undergraduate programs require letters from teachers or community leaders, while master and doctoral programs require letters from professors and professional contacts. You need to strategically consider who you will ask for letters from. Therefore, our next question…
Who can write a letter for me?
The most important thing is that you ask for letters from a person who knows you well. Applicants often think that it is better to ask for a letter from a person holding an important post, but it will not matter if he does not personally know you. It will be immediately obvious to the selection committee how well this person can talk about your strengths and abilities. Therefore, it is better to ask for letters from those people who can give specific examples from your joint experience.
Can I help the teacher/professor/supervisor understand what to write in the letter?
Yes. This step is more or less mandatory. Your recommenders render you a great service, therefore it is better to make this process as simple as possible for them. It is necessary to send recommenders information on deadlines, features of those programs for which you apply, and ideas on what your joint experience should be included in the letter. Usually you can find on the university’s website a few suggestions about what exactly they want to hear from the advisers.
But in no case should you write the text of the letter instead of the recommender, even if he or she says that they do not know how to compose it or do not have time for it. This is a serious violation of academic virtue, which plays an important role in American educational culture. If the recommender has no experience writing letters of recommendation, it is worth showing them a few examples so that they understand the format and what needs to be included in the letter.
Ask for letters from people who can specifically speak about your character and abilities, even if they do not speak English. Most universities accept translated letters, but if you are not sure, contact the admissions officer with questions. Remember – it is better to ask for letters at least one or two months in advance, and it will not hurt to send the reminders one more reminder a few weeks before the deadline.
If you have any additional questions about letters of recommendation and how to provide an ideal recommendation, contact EducationUSA advisers for a free consultation. EducationUSA – Your Official U.S. Higher Education Information Source.