Letter of Recommendation for College
What is a Letter of Recommendation?
Who needs a letter of recommendation or Types of Recommendation Letters?
Who to Select or request to write a letter of recommendation?
How does one ask someone for a Letter of Recommendation?
What Content should be included and how should it be structured in an effective LOR?
- The first line is always needed to be warm as well as emphatic. It should indicate the writer's enthusiasm to be the means of introduction. A letter of recommendation template may include the following as the first line:"It is my pleasure to write a letter of recommendation for…" or, "I write this letter to unreservedly recommend…." Or "it gives me great pride to write a recommendation for…" or “I give _____ my highest recommendation….” and such.
- Thereafter, the introductory paragraph describes the circumstances, length of time and relationship by which you know the applicant. This involves writing about your own job description and designation – and how you have crossed paths with the applicant. The letter writer can choose to write about how long they have known the applicant and the projects which were successful or interesting and which involved close interaction with the applicant.
- The next paragraph – allows you the opportunity to extoll the virtues of the applicant. While the fact that you are writing the letter of recommendation makes it clear that you wish the person you are recommending the best and hope he gets admission to the institute of his choice – the accolades that bestow upon him in this letter should be both truthful and specific. As a sample letter – you can include attributes such as, “social skills, sharp innovative abilities, strong technical skills, sound technical knowledge, excellent analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills, ability to work diligently, remarkable team working abilities, optimistic attitude, decision-maker, tangential progression in learning, lateral thinker, innovative solution maker, etc." These bring out the qualitative aspects of the applicant in your interactions with them.
- If possible you can relate some real incidents where you have observed such an ability. Specificity is much appreciated, such as, “in ______economics project, Rahul took the lateral view of deciding the result was due to demographics and not industry dependent as we had initially thought. He displayed the ability to research and work hard, place persuasive arguments and ability to garner group support for further work into this sector. It emerged as the correct idea. And Rahul attributed the success equally between his team and himself. I consider his ability to think as well as motivate people as a combination that will take him far."
- You can gently encourage the reader of the letter to accept the applicant by re-iterating your belief that he would be an asset or an adept learner at the new institution. It may be stated as: "I am confident that Vidya will be an outstanding member of your theoretical physics class and the associated society." Or "Rishi with his creative mindset and hardworking attitude will no doubt be an outstanding student at your university".
- A polite sign off is the way to end any formal letter and the LOR is no exception. Encourage further communication from your end by signalling your availability. An example is, “feel free to contact me anytime between 10 and 2 on all weekdays in case of further details being required.”
How to Write a Strong Recommendation:
- The LOR is well regarded if it comes from a respected source. So while your parent or sibling may write you an excellent LOR – your best bet would be to find some impartial person – in the proper position to write the same for you.
- The language used in the LOR should be polite, upbeat, direct and positive. Sincerity comes through in language and if you are truly recommending the applicant the tome of your letter will surely convey the same to the reader.
- A letter that flows like a narrative – starting how you know the applicant, for how long, what your interactions were and contains specific events and acknowledgements is much more interesting to read than one full of generic compliments.
- Your letter should be relevant to the position that is being applied for – whether the course or the university or the professor. There is no time or interest on either side in a rambling story and the highlighted attributes and strengths of the applicant should be ones relevant to his application.
- Your tone in the letter should be affable and polite. Leave contact information at the end to show your availability and willingness to expound on the applicant’s details.
What to exclude when you write a LOR:
Format –Stationery, Font, and Margins
How does the recipient of the LOR assess it?
The recipient of the LOR is trying to formulate a well-rounded image of the applicant and the LOR helps them get an external point of view, as well as a peek of the applicant in real-life situations. The recipient likes the LOR to actually tell them something in perspective about the applicant and not merely be an extension of the Statement of Purpose of the applicant.(Please include recommendation letter templates or hyperlinks to those already available on the site – templates and sample letters seem to generate a tremendous amount of traffic towards the site)
Here is a couple of sample LORs:
It is a pleasure to extend my recommendations to Ms. Pratyusha for the MS program at your university. She is a former employee of Hexagon Capability Center India and had worked under my supervision in the ‘User Experience’ department for more than 3 and ½ years. She is a person with remarkable social skills, sharp innovative abilities, and strong technical skills. She is undoubtedly one of the most competent professionals whom I have had the pleasure of associating with, and I believe she would be an excellent addition to your institution.
Hexagon is a global software solutions provider for Plant Design Systems and Geographical Information Systems. Our department is tasked with conducting user research, interviews, and surveys, and developing new features and designs based on the information gathered. Pratyusha proved to be an invaluable addition to our team not only because of her excellent social skills- which helped her communicate effectively with our clients to understand their needs precisely- but also because of her technical skills and innovativeness which enabled her to provide several unique and remarkable design solutions for our software products.
In the duration of our association, Pratyusha worked on a total of two projects and her performance was commendable in both. In her first project ‘SmartPlant Materials’, I particularly appreciated her for her work on developing interactive prototypes that were designed to clearly convey the user requirements to the development team. I was equally impressed with the elegant manner in which she handled clients and the genuine interest that she displayed towards understanding their concerns; these qualities fetched her the ‘Pat on the back’ award on two different occasions. Her performance was far more impressive in the next project ‘SmartPlant Portal’ wherein she proposed a number of innovative ideas which were implemented to enhance the quality of the portal. She was so expeditious in providing design solutions to the product that she ultimately made the process a lot smoother and faster. Not only was she fast, she was also meticulous with her work as she went through several iterations of designs so as to ensure top quality. She was duly recognized for her dedication and innovativeness with a ‘Star Award’.
In both these projects, Pratyusha showcased great proficiency at handling User Experience, UI Design, and Architecture primarily for web-based applications and large volumes of dynamic content. She also always took the effort to stay abreast with current design trends, web and mobile design technology opportunities and limitations, which revealed to me her thirst for up-to-date knowledge and her eagerness to continually broaden her horizons. I believe that this particular quality of hers would prove most useful during her graduate studies.
I am convinced that Pratyusha is an excellent candidate for a reputed institution such as yours. She has what it takes to excel in your program, and I am certain that she would prove to be an asset to your university and graduate with the highest distinction. I give her my strongest recommendation.
It does indeed give me tremendous pleasure to be writing a recommendation for one of the best students and the most promising researcher whom I have had the pleasure of associating with in all the years of my career. Ms. Parul Gupta is certainly a fine person and a brilliant scholar, and in this letter, I would like to shed light onto a few of her finest qualities which I believe make her highly worthy of admission into a Graduate program as highly reputed as yours.
I knew Parul for a period of 4 years while she was an undergraduate of Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering at the R.V. College of Engineering. Our association began during her 4th semester while she was a student of my classes on ‘Microprocessors and Microcontrollers’. Parul certainly made her presence felt right from the very beginning of my lectures, with her intelligent questions, insightful responses, and her eagerness to understand the practical applications of all concepts discussed in the class. The enthusiasm that she displayed for learning something new every day indeed made her a vibrant addition to the classroom. From the outset, I could sense that she had all the qualities of a good researcher, and my perception only strengthened after I witnessed her work in the labs, where she showed meticulous care for detail and always insisted on employing a systematic approach to solving problems. The lab sessions also brought out her ability to work well in teams and her tendency to willingly guide others in the right direction, which I believe are essential qualities for any researcher.
Sensing her remarkable potential for focused research work and problem-solving, I chose to guide Parul in two projects during the course of her undergraduate studies. And, her performance in these projects has made it very clear to me that she has what it takes to become an excellent researcher, one who I believe can produce innovations and breakthroughs that can create a powerful impact on society at large. The first of her projects was to design and develop a drowsiness detection system, which aimed at preventing incidences of accidents caused by drowsy drivers. The next was on designing a non-invasive method of measuring blood glucose and blood pressure using a wrist-worn unit. Both these projects involved the development of highly complex algorithms, and Parul, with her sharp analytical and logical skills, was able to effectively address the problems at hand. The most impressive quality of these projects was that they were both aimed at addressing real-world problems for improving the quality of life. This has been the underlying theme of all of Parul’s projects, and it has clearly shown that she is eager to use her knowledge and skills to benefit society.
The most sophisticated project that Parul completed, one demands a detailed analysis of her efforts, was her thesis project on designing and developing a system that can acquire, amplify and transmit EEG signals for neonates so as to aid in the diagnosis of neonatal illness. The project was complex in that it involved interdisciplinary research in the areas of computers, electronics, and biomedical engineering. But Parul and her team embraced the challenge, and they worked tirelessly to achieve their objective. Working closely with a practicing medical professional, who provided the requirements and also tested the final product, Parul and her team designed and simulated several prototypes until they arrived at one that gained the Doctor’s approval. And Parul played a central role in the team’s efforts as it was she who was designing all the prototypes. The team certainly faced a lot of hurdles at the start, but they preserved and the end product was appreciated by many. I showed my appreciation for Parul’s efforts and contributions by giving her a perfect score for the project.
Her sound technical knowledge, excellent analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills, ability to work diligently, a never-say-die attitude and remarkable team working abilities, certainly make Parul an excellent candidate for the intense graduate program offered by your esteemed University. I am sure she will excel at your University and go on to become an extraordinary researcher. I give my strongest recommendation.