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Things You Should Know While Seeking A Letter Of Recommendation (LOR)

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By Penolipi
5 Mar'22  6 min read
Things You Should Know While Seeking A Letter Of Recommendation (LOR)
Synopsis

A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is a crucial document for your university admissions. The purpose of getting an LOR is to have someone credible vouch for your skills and achievements, preferably an expert you’ve been associated with before. Getting a recommendation letter for students can be tough, especially if they don’t know what sort of an LOR to get - a professional letter of recommendation, or an academic letter of recommendation for university admission - or how to go about requesting their referrer for them. In this article, we shall elaborate on a few points which are crucial for the process of seeking an LOR for university admissions.

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Things You Should Know While Seeking A Letter Of Recommendation (LOR)
Synopsis

A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is a crucial document for your university admissions. The purpose of getting an LOR is to have someone credible vouch for your skills and achievements, preferably an expert you’ve been associated with before. Getting a recommendation letter for students can be tough, especially if they don’t know what sort of an LOR to get - a professional letter of recommendation, or an academic letter of recommendation for university admission - or how to go about requesting their referrer for them. In this article, we shall elaborate on a few points which are crucial for the process of seeking an LOR for university admissions.

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A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is someone’s endorsement for you. It is needed by the university from an expert who knows you well, and is willing to vouch for you. LORs provide a comprehensive insight into your candidature for a particular university and program, by talking in detail about your academic and non-academic achievements and skills, as understood and explained by the referrer. It is, therefore, important that the referrer is a credible person who can add weight to your application.

We shall talk about how to choose a referrer for your LOR, but before that, it’s essential to understand the types of LORs.

Types Of Recommendation Letters For Students

There are a couple of types of recommendation letters that you should be aware of. They are as follows:

Academic LOR

An academic LOR justifies your academic prowess. Hence, it would be a good idea to choose a referrer from your most recent academic venture/course. For example, if you are aiming for a master’s program, an LOR that comes from, let’s say a faculty member of the college you graduated from, will hold more value than one coming from someone from your high school.

These LORs focus extensively on your academic skills, while touching upon the extracurriculars you undertook, during your association with the concerned institution. They also focus on your people skills, testifying your positive camaraderie with your peers.

Professional LOR

This is required for the candidates going for master’s programs that require the aspirant to have prior work experience. A professional letter of recommendation is ideally provided by your team supervisor, or head of the department. The important consideration is that you must have had direct, or dotted reporting to your referrer. The highlight of a professional letter of recommendation is that it focuses on professional ideals like leadership, team skills, communication skills, and problem resolution under time and resource constraints.

How To Choose A Referrer

As a ground rule, at least three LORs are expected of any student who aims to apply for any program abroad. Depending on your professional experience, and the program to which you are applying, you get to decide on your referrers. Here's a quick three-pointer guide to doing that.

  • If you are aiming for undergraduate studies, you could perhaps approach your principal or school counsellor/s for one of the LORs, while your teachers for the other two. It would be helpful if one of those teachers could be your class teacher/class in charge.
  • If you are aiming for post-graduate studies (MS, MBA, MIM, PhD, etc.), and you have 0-2 years of work experience, you may seek your LORs from your college professors, internship supervisors, project guides, or team leaders/managers.
  • If you are aiming for post-graduate studies and you have more than 3 years of experience, only then will professional letters of recommendation be required, unless specified otherwise.

How To Approach Your Referrer?

Usually, the referrer needs some time to decide if they would be willing to vouch for you to an educational institution. The following few pointers may be crucial for you to understand the process of approaching your prospective referrer.

Stay On Good Terms With Your Seniors

If you are reading it right now and are in college, start by building a rapport with your professors. If you are working with an organization, start interacting well with your team lead, and manager. Be proactive in your interactions with them, ask questions, share your opinions, so that you cast a positive impression in their minds, and they consider recommending you when you need it.

Connect In-Person, Not On Mail

It is always suggested to approach your referrer in person. If asking in person is not possible, drop an email and ask for their time on call. It is ideal NOT to ask for recommendations in the very first email. Once you are able to connect with them on call or in person, you may politely express your concern and share your requirement for an LOR.

Also, you should ask your referrer if they would need you to share any supporting documents against the LOR. While, in most cases, referrers do not ask for such documents, it will be polite on your part to ask.

Make sure you don’t push the prospective referrers to a point where it begins to bother them. You should respect the thin line between requesting and pushing.

Keep Enough Time On Your Hands

Approaching your prospective referrer, and then the process of them writing the LOR for you is likely to take some time. Hence, it is suggested that you plan things in advance, keeping some time on your hands to ensure that the entire process of getting your LORs is smoothly carried out.

Keep Everything Documented

It would be a good idea to keep everything documented. After having a verbal conversation with your referrer, write to them a formal email, referring to your conversation. In the mail, you may also mention some relevant details like your scores in the relevant aptitude tests (GRE, GMAT, IELTS, etc), the deadline for applying to the university, and the course you are applying for. Also, attaching scanned copies of relevant certificates, transcripts, and other documents relevant to your application might be helpful.

After having understood a few crucial elements in which an LOR is grounded, let us now discuss a few points on how to write a letter of recommendation for university.

Things To Keep In Mind

An LOR is a 400 to 600-word document that talks about the strengths of a candidate. Unless otherwise mentioned, there are a few basic elements that a candidate must bear in mind while finalizing the LOR. These are:

  • LORs must be provided on official letterheads of the referring company or college. In case a university requires the referrer to enter the text on a portal, they must use/enter their official email ids.
  • In cases wherein the referrer no longer works at the same institution/company, to where their association with the candidate goes back, they must ideally mention the history of their association, briefly.
  • The referrer must mandatorily mention their relationship with the candidate, as in, in what capacity they have known each other.
  • Your LOR for university should not look like a replication of your Statement Of Purpose (SOP).
  • Your LOR should ideally not look like a generic testimonial about you. Your referrer must be specific in how they mention your strengths and achievement, as they have witnessed them.

For consideration, you can take a look at a few LOR samples, but make sure not to copy from them. LOR samples are only to get an idea as to what you should aim at.

You must remember that the admission committee of the institution you are applying to receives multiple LORs, and hence, your LOR is likely to strike a chord with them only when it genuinely elucidates instances of your skills, experiences, and achievements. Having an impressive letter of recommendation for university can do wonders for you, and take you a step closer to your dream institution.

Penolipi Wordsmith is a pioneer in drafting compelling SOP's, LOR's, CV's, and Custom Essays. Their team consists of graduates from the top B-Schools in India and Abroad, and have been actively working in the study abroad domain for more than 10 years. They can be reached at www.penolipi.com.

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