Letters of Recommendation are a very important and vital part of an application process, for undergraduate or graduate study in the United States of America. Universities require between two to three letters to be written by your recommenders, recommending you for higher studies in the US. These letters need to be written in confidentiality by the recommenders and sent to the US admissions office directly by them, in sealed envelopes that are provided by the American universities. Recommenders are usually your college or university professors.
The selection committee attaches a lot of importance to these letters because they come from people who have closely observed the applicant’s work over a period of time. You might wonder how a selection committee is able to figure out a genuine letter of recommendation, since it comes from an international institution, whose education system is very different from theirs. Since they are professors themselves and have written letters for their own students, they look for clues that can help them. They also review a lot of letters over the years and a variety of them. So they can figure out if such letters have been written in confidentiality and if the professor writing the letter of recommendation knows the applicant at all or is just writing from a standard format. Such letters praise the applicant without providing any personal experiences or facts to support their claims.
A good letter of recommendation is one where the person writing the letter talks about the actual work done by the applicant under their supervision, how he or she fared at the task and any other examples that they might want to add. For example, any projects undertaken and any special achievements achieved by the applicant highlighted in the letters will help the selection committee to understand the student better. An application form will not be able to capture all this information about the student and so a strong letter of recommendation with a lot of additional information about the student will help. The letter should also mention the skills/abilities of the student and how these would help the student while doing their higher studies.
While filling out the application form, a student has to mention whether he or she will be reading the letters of recommendation written by their recommenders. If they do not read them and ensure confidentiality, then the university admissions committee looks at these applicants more favourably. It would also be in the applicant’s favour to get a recommendation from a person who has known him or her for a considerable period of time and who can provide a strong and enthusiastic recommendation.
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