Studying abroad requires you to convince the university committee that you're the perfect fit for their course programmes and that you'd do justice to reaping the benefits of the course if given the opportunity. So, like your statement of purpose, a letter of recommendation (LOR) is another important document you must provide to establish your eligibility for the course.
So, what is a letter of recommendation?
It's a document written by an eligible professional, such as a former employer, professor, or mentor who knows you well and has a good impression of your skills, character and potential. A strong recommendation letter can help you stand out from the other applicants and increase your chances of securing admission.
Let's discuss the importance of getting the perfect recommendation letter and how to get a strong recommendation letter for a master's degree.
Importance of Getting an Effective Recommendation Letter
Here are a few reasons why an effective letter of recommendation is crucial for the success of your enrollment:
- Helps the recipient make an informed decision: A letter of recommendation helps the admissions officer analyse your eligibility for the course and help them determine your capabilities in terms of research work, academic performance, and extracurricular activities. Based on the inputs from the letter of recommendation, the officer can make an informed decision to confirm your suitability for the course.
- Improves your chances of success: A well-written letter of recommendation puts your skills and capabilities into perspective and improves your chances of getting shortlisted for the course. On the other hand, if the letter of recommendation is not well structured, your achievements might be overlooked, thus decreasing your chances of enrolling in the course.
- Gives a fair assessment of your strengths and weaknesses: A letter of recommendation gives you a fair picture of your strengths and weaknesses in a subject area/course and gives you insights on the areas you need to improve on to make the most of your studies abroad.
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5 Simple Tips to Get an Effective Recommendation Letter for Master Degree
Sure, we all want someone to wax lyrical about our accomplishments, but the way it is presented matters a great deal in convincing the admissions officer of your eligibility for the course. So, it's important to ensure the following points while preparing a stellar letter of recommendation:
1. Choose the right recommender
Choose a professor/former employer who has taught you and observed your skills and capabilities in an academic/work setting. Choosing the right person is crucial because the letter of recommendation requires them to highlight your proficiency and potential in a particular subject area.
2. Provide necessary information to the recommender
Present the recommender with necessary information about the master's course, course description and any other information that'd be relevant for drafting the letter. Ensure to also give the recommender your resume, transcripts and personal statement for them to write a solid description of your academic potential.
3. Give the recommender enough time
Give enough time for the recommender to draft the letter, keeping in mind their professional and personal obligations. Communicate well in advance of your requirement and follow up with gentle reminders to ensure that it doesn't get overlooked.
4. Be specific
Be specific? How? Be specific with your requirement by clearly informing the recommender about the areas that need to be focused on so the recommender understands the requirements of the course and highlights the skills that are most relevant for the course.
5. Follow-up and express gratitude
Once your letter has been submitted, ensure to follow up with your recommender to thank them for their time and assistance. This will show them that you appreciate their help and value their opinion.
The Format of Good Letter of Recommendation
There are certain do's and don'ts that you should follow for an LOR to have the desired effect on the admissions officer:
- Have an introduction: Ensure that the letter begins with an introduction about the recommender and their relationship with you. It's also prudent to add how long and in what capacity they've known you.
- Specific examples: Ensure that the letter includes specific illustrative examples of your skills and accomplishments most relevant to the course/programme. This would ensure that the admissions officer has a positive impression of your academic skills and talents.
- Personal qualities: Ensure that a few words on your personal qualities, such as your work ethic, enthusiasm, and dedication are included, as they will greatly enhance your desirability for the course.
- Comparison to peers: The recommender could also include a comparison of your skills to your peers to highlight your competency and potential.
- Conclusion: Ensure the letter is concluded with a strong endorsement of your potential and skills to pursue the course and how desirable you are as a student and person to be accepted into the course.
- Generic language: Ensure the letter doesn't use generic language, as this can make it seem less personal and less effective. Lack of detail and specific examples could make the letter seem vague and spiritless.
- Bias or discrimination: Any language that could be seen as biased or discriminatory, such as comments on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation should be avoided.
- Exaggeration: Avoid any instances/examples that could be construed as exaggerating or inflating your achievements or abilities, as this can make the letter seem insincere or unrealistic.
- No Plagiarism: Avoid blindly copying a standard template and plagiarising content from a published source since it'd lead to the rejection of the letter.
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Now that you're aware of the do's and don'ts of writing a perfect recommendation letter for master's degree, here's a template that you can get your recommender to follow:
Dear [Recipient's Name],
First section: Introduction
I am pleased to write this letter of recommendation for [Name], who has asked me to provide my professional opinion on their qualifications and character.
Second section: Description of your academic potential/work skills as well as the nature and capacity of your relationship with the writer
I have had the pleasure of working with [Name] for [duration] in [capacity or context of the relationship], during which time I have been able to closely observe their work habits, dedication, and interpersonal skills. Based on my experiences, I am confident in recommending [Name] for [purpose of the letter - job, scholarship, program, etc.]
Third section: Highlight personal qualities and gradual improvement in performance
[The recommender must provide specific examples and details to highlight your strengths, achievements, and any exemplary qualities that make you stand out. They may also discuss any challenges or obstacles that you overcame, or any particular skills or experiences that make you well-suited for the opportunity they are pursuing.]
Fourth section: Conclude with a strong endorsement for you to be accepted into the course
Overall, I have been thoroughly impressed with [Name]'s performance and believe that they would be an excellent addition to any course or program. They possess diversified skill sets, exceptional communication skills, and a commitment to excellence that I believe will serve them well in any future endeavours.
If you require any further information or would like to discuss [Name]'s qualifications in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me.
[Name of the Company/Organization (if applicable)]
[His/her Contact Information]
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Who Should You Ask For a Letter of Recommendation for Your Master's Application?
An LOR should be from an authority who is aware of your talents and has a good impression of your academic performance and capabilities during the time you were associated with them.
An LOR can be asked from the following people:
- Your professors, professional mentors, and past employers, based on the conditions of the university/master's course you're applying to.
- Employers or supervisors who have overseen your work and can speak to your professional abilities.
- Co-workers or colleagues who can vouch for your teamwork, communication, and leadership skills.
The letter should talk about your academic and professional accomplishments that support your calibre for a master's course; therefore, ensure to provide them with relevant information and inform them of the application deadline so that they send the letter in time.
Why Consult AECC?
AECC is one of the leading providers of overseas educational consultancy to help aspiring Indonesian students achieve their study abroad goals. From course counselling and applying to universities to guiding you with your visa process and language proficiency, we guide you with everything related to studying abroad.
1. Who should I ask to write my letter of recommendation?
You should ask someone who knows you well and can provide a detailed and positive assessment of your academic abilities, skills, and achievements. This could be a professor, supervisor, mentor, or someone you've worked with in a professional capacity.
2. What should my letter of recommendation include?
Your letter of recommendation should include an assessment of your academic abilities, skills, and achievements, as well as your potential as a graduate student. It should also include specific examples of your work, such as papers, projects, or research that you've completed.
3. How many letters of recommendation do I need?
The number of letters of recommendation required will vary depending on the master's program you're applying to. Typically, you'll need at least two or three letters of recommendation. Some programs may require more, so it's important to check the application requirements carefully.
4. How should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
When asking for a letter of recommendation, it's important to be polite and professional. You should explain why you're asking for the letter, provide the application deadline, and include any necessary forms or instructions.
5. When should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
You should ask for a letter of recommendation well in advance of the application deadline. Ideally, you should give your recommender at least a month's notice, so they have plenty of time to write the letter and submit it on time. You should also follow up with your recommender a week or two before the deadline to ensure that they've submitted the letter.