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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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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