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How to get a recommendation letter

There is an opinion that much is outside the control of the applicant and does not depend on him in the process of admission to graduate school. Is it true? Experience and statistics show the opposite: 98% of the aspects can be fully controlled.

Of course, you can’t influence the mood of a receptionist if he had an unfortunate date on the eve of checking your essay. Also, you will face more difficulties if suddenly your entire class decides to go to the same course as you. However, all these cases are rather exceptions than regular practice. Everything else is completely in your hands.

The ability to control the situation mainly depends on what you do, how well, and what impression you managed to create about yourself in your closest academic environment.

From this article you’ll find out how to ask for letters of recommendation for graduate school.

What is a recommendation letter?

A letter of recommendation is a characteristic of the student. It is usually written by the teacher of the profile subject, the class mentor or the director of the educational institution. Admission commissions of universities can ask you to provide up to 3-4 letters of this format.

Nuances of receiving a letter of recommendation

What can be more uncontrolled than a paper written without your participation? You can’t get into the teacher’s head and dictate phrases that are advantageous to you. It remains to hope that the professors will write the excellent grad school recommendations accompanied by detailed and colorful illustrations of your academic and personal virtues, a frank confession that you are the most intelligent and talented student in their entire teaching career.

However, in reality everything is somewhat less enthusiastic.

Firstly, the teachers of our educational institutions never learned to write eloquent references for grad school with an evidence base. Only some of them can do it without any problems.

And secondly, many educators perceive such ‘pieces of paper’ formally. Often the characteristic of the student turns into a set of general phrases.

Useful tips for getting letters of recommendation after graduation

  1. Inform the pedagogue about your request in advance. Most teachers have a high workload and are almost always busy throughout the year. If you ask to write a letter of recommendation at the height of the educational process, you will either receive a refusal or a low-quality text (it is not yet known which option is worse).

Therefore, we recommend you to approach the teachers with such requests at the end of the summer when they have already rested and have not yet managed to get tired of the new school year. If there is no possibility to do it in August, take care that the author of the recommendation latter has time: at least three weeks.

  1. Tell the pedagogue about the requirements and the structure of the letter of recommendation. It is possible that your teacher will write such document for the first time. Your task is to make the process as easy as possible for him.
  2. If you are afraid that despite all your tricks and explanations the letter will still not be enough individualized or deep, write the text yourself and offer it to the teacher for consideration. It is important to understand that professors who do not care about the requests of their students are extremely rare persons. On the contrary, most often they try very hard to write a good letter but do not always fully understand what is required of them. They also rarely perceive intentions to help aggressively.

If you sent the draft of recommendation letter via e-mail but did not receive an answer (or worse – heard that you didn’t have to do it), there is a high probability that the teacher will look into your text and use it, if not in whole or in part, at least as an idea for inspiration.

  1. Show yourself in the classroom and try to establish a good relationship with the author of the recommendation. To do this, it is worth taking an active academic position: offer your help in preparing projects and presentations, writing personal statements, read additional literature, participate in discussions, demonstrate interest in studying and in a specific subject in particular.
  2. Finally, if you see some confusion in response to your request, try to determine what it is related to. If the teacher is unfamiliar with the format and requirements, you can easily fix it. But if for some reason he does not want to write the letter, perhaps you should ask someone else.

Most often, young people apply to teachers at whose lessons they had the best marks. We advise to choose those who can tell more about you and do it with pleasure!

Letter of recommendation from the working place

If you already have work experience in the specialty you study, a recommendation from colleagues also can have a positive impact.

It should be written on the letterhead of the company. Try to get characteristics from people who know you well. In order for the letter to have value, ask for assistance of someone higher than you in the rank – direct superior or his boss. In addition, you can enlist the recommendations of other members of the management team, in the extreme case of employees with a rank equal to yours.

Helpful advice

You never know how many jobs will be changed during your career. Therefore, collect a portfolio of letters of recommendation from teachers and superiors, carefully store them. In the future, you can indicate the availability of recommendations in the CV and present them in a personal interview with the employer.

If you lose these documents, it will be almost impossible to restore everything. It’s unlikely that your colleague or university professor will remember what he wrote about you. Maybe after a few years, you won’t even find the person who gave you a recommendation.



BIO: This article was prepared by Nora Johnson, expert writer from https://pro-papers.com/personal-statement-writing. After her successful graduation, Nora dedicates her time to helping young people to achieve their goals and to enroll at colleges and universities they want.

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