Recommendation Letters – Part 2: Ingredients of a Good Recommendation Letter

What Recommendation Letters should Cover

Recommendation letters should cover the following points (also see the links to great sample recos at the end of this post):

  • How long the recommender has known you and in what capacity (teacher, seminar or project guide, practical supervisor, project leader etc.)
  • His or her assessment of your academic performance (relative rank etc.), intellectual abilities, work habits and character
  • Your special achievements – especially in projects or in papers presented
  • Your communication skills – how well you were able to present your seminars
  • Your social skills – ability to work well with others, leadership qualities
  • Some background about the recommender – this is useful in the case of professors whose work in a field might be good but little known outside India; things to highlight include area of work, achievements in that area (papers published, awards etc.), prominent places worked in, length of experience and so on

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Applying for Transcripts from Pune University

In Pune University the process of applying for transcripts is as follows:

  1. Download the transcript form from the website of Pune University
  2. Fill up the form and submit the form in person at the transcripts department – this is located on university campus. Do not forget to carry original mark sheets if required for verification. In case you are asked to submit mark sheets, submit photocopies not originals.
  3. Pay the required fees immediately at Bank of Maharashtra counter located on the university campus. Continue reading

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Types of Transcripts – and Why you Need Them

Some universities accept only university transcripts; others accept college transcripts or even an attested mark sheet. Some universities require you to submit 2 transcripts. It is very important that you read the American university requirements carefully before applying. Make sure you do not send them the wrong document type as it will delay the admission process.
These are issued by the university your college is affiliated to e.g. M.I.T. College in Pune is affiliated to Pune University. If you are a student of that college and the American university you are applying to requires university transcripts, you should get transcripts from Pune University.

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The University Transcript: What Exactly is It and Why is It Important?

The transcript is an official summary of your academic performance and progress to date. It is one of the key documents you have to submit when you are applying for admission to a doctoral or master’s program of studies in an American college or university (the others are the statement of purpose, recommendation letters, a resume and of course your GRE and TOEFL scores). In order for the transcript to be acceptable to American universities as an official document, it must conform to the following specifications – it should be:

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The University Transcript: A Comprehensive Description of the Details Included

Your transcript should contain the following:

  • a ‘bona fide certificate’ containing:
    • your name
    • the name of the college where you studied
    • the name of the course you studied
    • the duration for which you were at the university/college and date of completion of the course
    the examination scheme which, includes details such as:
    • whether all subjects are compulsory or whether there are elective subjects, a project etc.
    • the number of semesters in the course and the duration of each semester
    • the duration of each lecture
    • the minimum marks required to pass in a subject
    • the maximum number of grace marks that may be given so that a student may pass or obtain a higher class
    • the score scheme used: grade point average (GPA) or aggregate percentage/class system

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September Alert for Students Applying for Admission in Fall 2014

fall 2014September 2013

Here’s your checklist of tasks for this month – and note there’s a lot of heavy documentation work that you have to be doing, so be prepared to do a lot of running around to your college and your university

  1. Arrange for 10-13 sets of transcripts in sealed covers from your college or university – some universities insist on university transcripts
  2. Choose your recommenders (generally 3 recommendations are required, at least one of which should be from the educational institute last attended) and give them the necessary details – resume, copies of your mark sheets etc.
  3. Start working on your Statement of Purpose (target date for completion 31 October 2013) and resume

Note: for the full schedule see: timeline for fall 2014

Related Links:

Application for MS (or PhD) in the US: Key Steps, Crucial Decisions, Vital Information How to Crack the GRE All the Key Facts about TOEFL and IELTS

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Recommendation Letters – Part 1: Who the Best Letters Come From

Recommendation Letters – What They are and Who You Should Get Them From

In the context of higher education in America, recommendation letters are statements by teachers, supervisors or employers which highlight your qualities, background and achievements and show that you are a good candidate for a doctoral or master’s program of studies.

To make sure that you are an applicant of good caliber every university will ask you to submit at least 3 recommendation letters along with your application form. If you are a student, these recommendation letters should come from teachers who have taught you important subjects or supervised relevant project work, research papers or seminars. If you are a working professional and your work experience is relevant to the field you plan to do your degree in, one letter can come from your immediate superior in the organization (if you have been working for a very long time then you can take letters from two people in organizations you have worked with, but at least one recommendation should be academic).

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All About The Resume – Part 1: Why You Must Send a Resume in Your Application Packet

Why Sending a Resume Matters

Resumes (pronounced re-syoo-mayz) are included in your application for an American university for three reasons:

  • firstly, to give the admissions committee a brief snapshot of your academic performance – academic performance carries great weightage in deciding whether you will be admitted or not and in some universities admissions committees form their first impressions of your academic performance by looking at your resume
  • secondly, to present your qualifications for a research or teaching assistantship – for this reason remember to attach a covering letter to your resume requesting that it be circulated to interested professors
  • thirdly, to provide details of projects, seminars, industrial training etc. that you could not include in your SOP because of the word limit

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All About the Resume – Part 2: Make It Easy for Professors Select You

Why the Resume is Different from a Bio Data or a CV – and Why It Should Stay that Way

Note that the resume is different from a bio data or a curriculum vitae (CV) in several respects: whereas bio datas and CVs are all-inclusive, data bank-like documents written in chronological order, resumes are compact, focused documents written in reverse chronological order that highlight only the most relevant and important information for course (or post) being applied for. So, don’t turn your resume into a Bio Data or CV – that would defeat the very purpose of the document.

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All About the Resume – Part 3: How to Create a Snapshot of Yourself in One Brief Page

Tips for Writing Resumes

A resume, like all other application documents, is designed to answer one crucial question: “Why should you be selected?” Of all the application documents (the SOP, the recommendation letters, and the transcripts), the resume answers that question in the briefest yet most comprehensive way. In order to achieve its goals, the resume must present the most important facts about you in their most concentrated form, in the smallest possible space. This will enable it to present a compelling snapshot of your strengths as a candidate and persuade the Admissions Committee that you are a good choice. Here are some tips that will help your resume to achieve its intended goals:

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