What is a Letter of Recommendation (LOR)?

A recommendation letter is a document that provides the Admission officers with a comprehensive insight to your suitable candidature for admission into the concerned University. The letter aims at enabling the Admission officers to gain a clearer and favorable picture of your experience, achievements, contributions and skills communicated by the recommender through the recommendation letter.

Provided that almost every application necessitates submission of 2-3 recommendation letters, you must have your recommenders identified and agreed to prepare your letter well in time. Also, don’t underrate the importance of an LOR as it is almost as important as your admission essays, statements of purpose, resumeor any other document for that matter. While choosing the right recommender, you must remember a few key pointers following which you will end up submitting outstanding LOR’s to the Admission Committee.

Types of LOR

Letter of Recommendations broadly can be classified into two broad categories based on the Nature of the Recommender.

1. Academic LOR

A letter of recommendation provided by a faculty member of your previous institute. Usually, universities ask for you to provide two or three LORs from your previous institute ( this could be your teachers from your schools in case of undergraduate courses and professors from your college in case you are applying for masters’ programs). The Letter of Recommendation (LOR) Format from Faculty often varies in the content and requires the professor to highlight the applicant’s accomplishments as a student of the course. Often, these are more relevant to MS Colleges Abroad or Bachelor Courses abroad.

2. Professional LOR

Most of the MBA Colleges Abroad have a pre-defined work experience requirements. Accordingly, they request for a Professional Letter of Recommendation from an immediate supervisor. The Professional Letter of Recommendation (LOR) Format from a Supervisor varies from an Academic LOR in terms of some specific content that focusses on the applicant’s ability to work within a team, the exposure to the domain as well as his/her leadership abilities – all necessary to the MBA course applied for.

How to write a Recommendation Letter (LOR)

Unless and otherwise specified, a letter of recommendation is a 400-500 word essay which talks about the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. There are some things you must include in a recommendation letter like the nature of association as well as the tenure of association. Apart from that, there are some basic formats which must also be kept in mind. Most of the universities require this letter to be on the official letterhead. For an Academic LOR – the university’s letterhead is required and for a Professional LOR – the letterhead of the company. What is important to remember in the latter case is that the letterhead should be of the company the recommender is working in. This usually creates a problem if your recommender has moved on to another organization. Hence, the student must know how to choose the right recommender.

An important point to be kept in mind is that an LOR is not a repetition of an SOP. An ideal LOR is supposed to demonstrate aspects/perspectives of your personality not mentioned either in your SOP or resume. Thus, an ideal recommender is the one who knows you well, has personally witnessed the quality of work delivered by you and readily agreed to provide specific instances of your valued contribution and excellence. A generic LOR is a strict no-no as it does not offer much value to your candidature for the program you are applying to.

You must always remember that the Admission Committee scurries through thousands of applications and yours is one of them. Now, in order to stand out, focus on including your qualities and accomplishments reinforced by real instances. Another important point here is to endeavor to make all your LORs unique and that can be achieved only if you include unique instances in all the LORs. Making an Impressive Letter of Recommendationis as important as writing a winning SOP.Just keep the formats in place and remember the common mistakes you should avoid in a recommendation letter.


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