The Letter of Recommendation or LOR is a document that provides the admission officers with a comprehensive insight into your suitable candidature, for admission into the concerned University. It aims to provide a favourable picture of your experiences, achievements, contributions, and skills communicated by the recommender.
Types of LORs
Letters of Recommendation can be broadly classified into two categories based on the nature of the recommender:
1. Academic LOR
An academic LOR is a letter of recommendation provided by a faculty member of your current or previous educational institution. Usually, universities ask you to provide two or three LORs from your previous institution. This could be your teachers from your school in case of undergraduate courses, and professors from your college in case you are applying for Master's or PhD programs. The Letter of Recommendation (LOR) Format from Faculty often varies in 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 pre-defined work experience requirements. Accordingly, they request 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 focuses 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.
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Who needs LORs? Why do they need them?
Any student going to study abroad requires an academic letter of recommendation. Irrespective of the course (UG, MS, MBA, or PhD) and country, every student requires at least three letters of recommendation from either their college or professional background. For UG students, LORs can be taken from teachers, professors, school counsellors or the school principal. For MS students, college professors, internship supervisors, or the team lead/ manager from the company they have worked in, can issue recommendation letters. For MBA students, LORs should be purely professional, especially, if they have experience of three years or more. For MBA and PhD aspirants who have recently graduated from college, they can ask for recommendation letters from their college professors, supervisors, or project guides.
How to write a Recommendation Letter (LOR)?
Unless specified otherwise, a letter of recommendation is a 400-500 word essay that talks about a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. There are some things you must include in a recommendation letter like the nature of the association as well as the tenure of the association. Apart from that, some basic formats must also be kept in mind.
- Most 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 is needed.
- One thing 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 a LOR is not a repetition of an SOP.
- An ideal LOR is supposed to demonstrate aspects/perspectives of your personality not mentioned 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 has 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. Therefore, strong examples form the core of a good LOR.
You must always remember that the Admission Committee peruses through thousands of applications during each intake 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 endeavour to make all your LORs unique and that can be achieved only if you include unique instances, specific to that particular recommender, in each of them. Making an Impressive Letter of Recommendation is as important as writing a winning SOP. Just keep the formats in mind and remember the common mistakes you should avoid in a recommendation letter. The recommendation letters for different courses need to be written accordingly. Here are some examples to help you navigate easily:
Recommendation letter format: Shiksha Guidelines
Out of all the formats and sample LORs available online, one is faced with a dilemma deciding the right format to choose. As explained above, there are different types of recommendation letters, depending on the course and the recommender. Apart from this, it is also important to pay attention to the formatting and content of the document. To help the students with their application process, Shiksha has its own set of guidelines that expedites this process by advising them about the formatting, format, and hygiene of the document. To know more about it, read Shiksha Guidelines for LOR.
Why Are Recommendation Letters Important?
As almost every application necessitates the submission of 2-3 recommendation letters, you must have your recommenders identified and have agreed to prepare your letter well in time. Also, do not underrate the importance of a LOR as it is almost as important as your admission essays, statements of purpose, the resume or any other document for that matter. A Letter of Recommendation is the document that provides credibility to your whole profile as strong support to your profile from experienced and learned professors and persons. Similarly, 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.
Shiksha.com helps students apply to 300+ universities worldwide with free SOP/LOR editing services. To know more details and get a free profile evaluation, check out our counseling page.
FAQs for LOR
Q. Any advice on how to request a letter of recommendation?
A. If you are a student, your Professors will be happy and willing to give you a recommendation letter for your admission to universities. However, you might get confused about which professor to ask for a LOR. In such a case, you can ask any Professor with whom you share a good rapport, or your HoD or Project Guide. You will not need much coaxing to get a genuine LOR from them. On the professional front, you can ask your Reporting Manager, Team Lead or Project Lead for a LOR, as they already know you closely. Last, but not least, it is always favourable to be in the good books of your Professors and/or Project Leads/Managers!
Q. What kind of information does the recommender need from me for the LOR?
A. If your recommender is willing to write the LOR himself/herself, then you should provide them with the following data:
- Your resume (this should contain all your experience in the college/ firm). This will help him/her to remember instances easily and write accordingly.
- The name of your target university and a link to their website/department website. It is a good idea to share with them the programme and course name as well.
- Personal characteristics or core competencies that you would like them to talk about (related to the recommender)
- Specific achievements you would like them to mention or highlight (as viewed by them)
Q. Can a fellow student or colleague write a LOR for me?
A. This is a common misconception but no, a fellow student or your colleague cannot write a Letter of Recommendation for you. A LOR needs to be professional and devoid of any friendly or biased notions. Hence, universities even specify how many letters of recommendation they require from your professional and academic front.
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