LOR Samples for Undergraduate: How to Write LOR for Undergraduate?


While academic transcripts, essays, letters of motivation or statements of purpose, curriculum vitae and every other document help to provide an overview of a student’s achievements and abilities, LORs allow a more specific perspective of the candidate as an individual. Written from a third-person point of view, LORs carry immense potential in determining admission decisions. Hence it is of utmost importance that a candidate is armed with strong LORs for application. 

In this article, we will discuss the importance of letters of recommendation and how to prepare effective LORs for the admission process. 

Understanding the Importance of LORs in Undergraduate Admissions

LORs are significant in the admission process because they help to build credibility. Typically, recommendation letters are provided by educators, mentors, and team leaders, mainly individuals who have seen a candidate perform, fail, learn, and grow. Thus, they have the ability to provide unbiased, first-hand reports of both soft and hard skills. This perspective is crucial for the admissions officer to understand a candidate’s potential for learning and overall growth besides highlighting your personality, professionalism, sincerity, and behaviour. Hence, LORs form a crucial part of the entire application process.

The Anatomy of an Effective LOR

The structure and key components of a compelling LOR

Typically, a LOR should start with the right introduction. The referee must introduce himself/herself in the first few lines vis-à-vis his/her relation to the student. He/she must also include the total duration for which he/she has known the student. Besides, all important information such as name of college, organization, subjects taken and the like should be included in the introductory paragraph. You can refer to LOR samples for your relevant program.

The body should include multiple brief paragraphs that discuss your specific skill sets. These must be personalized with proper examples. For example, if the referee wants to highlight the candidate as a leader, he/she must include a specific situation in which they have showcased leadership potential. This anecdote should ideally be written in the STAR (situation-task-action-result) format for more impact. Without specific instances, these LORs lose relevance and impact. Always personalize the recommendation letter with such brief anecdotes to reflect their unique personality.

There should be at least one paragraph discussing the weakness. However, it should be a positive weakness and should be highlighted as an opportunity to learn. This should also be narrated with a specific example.

In the concluding paragraph, the perception about the student can be summed up and why you think he/she will be a fit for the program.
Finally, add your signature and contact details.

Crafting the LOR: Step-by-Step Guide

Crafting the LOR

  • Understanding the applicant and their requirements – The first and most important step is understanding the applicant and their requirements for the LOR. These requirements will also include the expectations of the program and the applicants’ fit to the same. Hence, it is crucial that you have worked with the candidate and are in a position to justly discuss his/her potential. 
  • Planning the structure of the LOR – Once you have accepted the applicant’s request, invite him/her to a discussion. This will help you understand the key points in his/her profile more distinctly. Moreover, research the program and the school that the student is applying to and try to align the student’s skills to the program’s expectations and the school’s values. 
  • Crafting the content of the LOR – Based on the pointers collected from the exercise above, draft the LOR. Include specific examples to highlight the student’s strengths and achievements.
  • Reviewing and revising the LOR for clarity and persuasiveness – Always proofread your letter for any spelling or grammar issues and continuity errors. Ensure that the letter communicates credibility and makes a clear point of the applicant’s fit to the program.

Special Considerations for MS Applicants

LOR for masters programs need to be more specific from the academic point of view. Thus, you need to highlight not only the student’s fit to the program but also the relevance of the program for the student. Discussing the academic prowess of the MS program for the student’s academic advancement is necessary for LORs. To discuss the same, talk about the student’s academic performance in class as well as in project work. You can even discuss his/her areas of specific strengths. You may also highlight any extra courses or certification programs that the student may have taken to showcase seriousness and aspiration. A LOR sample for MS would indicate the student’s percentage stand in class, the courses taken as part of the curriculum or voluntarily, projects worked on, seminars participated in, internships worked at, and field trips attended among other such qualities. However, do not merely list these activities. Through each example, focus on the student’s potential for success at the target school.

LOR Samples for MS in USA

The LOR for MS in USA needs to include a few standard points. Firstly, the recommendation letter should emphasize a student’s English language proficiency. Thus the LOR sample for MS in USA will typically demonstrate this trait by mentioning that the medium of instruction at the given college was English, that they presented papers at some intra and/or inter-college events, or were an active participant in any events that required them to exercise their oratory skills. If they have internship experiences or are employed, they can also use situations such as interacting with global and/or national teams to demonstrate their stronghold over the English language.

Additionally, you will have to include examples to show that they are adaptable and can work in multiple situations. The apt way to show the same is by suggesting that they have worked with teams across time zones or with cross-functional teams or managed teams across departments in college. Similarly, you can talk about challenging situations that require them to step out of their comfort zone. At the same time, a LOR sample for MS in USA should definitely include situations where they have demonstrated inclusivity and cultural awareness. These points are crucial to showcase a global mindset and consequently, their ability to fit in with and contribute to a global cohort.

Lastly, as you talk about such involvements and abilities of the student, always remember to show how the student will also continue with similar endeavours during his/her time pursuing MS in USA, contributing to the university’s cultural ethos.

LOR Samples for MS in CS

While the aforementioned points are specific to LOR samples for MS in USA, there are a few particular points that you need to keep in mind while drafting your letter of recommendation for CS programs. A LOR sample for MS in CS thus necessitates the inclusion of relevant technical skills. Talk about the courses in their undergraduate/graduate curriculum, any online course or certification programs undertaken, and projects worked on that required the implementation of necessary programs and tools. Emphasizing an acquaintance with relevant technical tools is crucial in a LOR for CS programs.

Next, show the aptitude for creativity and innovation. The field of technology is ever-evolving and thus innovation forms its median force. Demonstrating instances where they have thought out of the box to solve a challenge or resolve a situation, designed an innovative product, or presented a fresh perspective on completing a project will help make a strong recommendation letter for applying to CS programs. At the same time, you will have to highlight their ability to communicate ideas freely and efficiently. This can be portrayed by highlighting instances of presentations or participation in seminars and the like.

Similarly, the domain of technology is multifaceted and it necessitates the ability to work seamlessly in teams. You also need to showcase their promptness for accepting new ideas and perspectives, taking up challenges, and performing in teams. Leadership and communication skills come in handy in such situations. Hence, depict such instances to prepare a winning application for your CS programs.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

  • Avoiding generic or impersonal LORs – This is the most common mistake in crafting a recommendation letter. You may include several aspects but without specific examples backing your claims, the LOR loses significance as an application element. A generic LOR does not talk about you, and thus, does not hold its relevance.
  • Balancing academic achievements with personal qualities – Do not fill your recommendation letter with academic achievements only. Always balance technical skills with soft skills even for programs such as computer science or any of the STEM programs. 
  • Using the same example – Recommendation letters are supposed to be submitted by different referees. Hence, no two LORs can be the same. However, the same instance may be used to highlight different skill sets by two referees.
  • Proofreading and avoiding errors or typos – Always proofread your work before finalizing it. LORs also need to showcase their communication skills and if the letter is fraught with errors, grammatical or otherwise, it will lose credibility. Either way, it is always a good practice to proofread your work before submission.

Ethical and Legal Considerations in LOR Writing

  • Ensuring honesty and accuracy in the LOR – That LORs represent credibility is a point that cannot be stressed enough. Honesty and accuracy of information being provided in the recommendation letters are of great importance. A single individual cannot possess all abilities, hence highlight the ones that truly resonates with the candidate.
  • Respecting confidentiality – Do not use any story that the applicant may not be comfortable with sharing. At the same time, while mentioning projects and the like, do respect confidentiality and avoid unnecessary mention of the participating individuals. 
  • Avoiding discriminatory language or bias – LORs are supposed to be a third-person view of a candidate’s skills and achievements. Hence, these should be unbiased. That is the main point of a recommendation letter – an unbiased perspective of a person. Avoid such language where it may show that the referee is biased or demonstrate a personal relationship that may influence the recommendation letter.

Finalizing the LOR: Proofreading, Formatting, and Submission

  • Proofreading for grammatical errors and typos – As stressed above, always proofread your letters of recommendation before submission. A recommendation letter fraught with spelling errors, typos, or grammatical mistakes will lose impact.
  • Formatting the LOR professionally – All official documents should always be formatted professionally. Use narrow margins, a standard font, font size, and font colour, and use uniform line spacing. Ensure that the signature follows a straight margin and all bold or italics are uniformly used throughout.
  • Submitting the LOR according to university specifications – If the candidate is applying to many schools, each may have its own specific requirements in terms of signature, formatting particulars, word limit, content, submission details and the like. Make sure that you go through each of these requirements and make the necessary adjustments to each of your documents.

The importance of a well-crafted LOR in enhancing an applicant’s chances of admission is undeniable. Amidst all essays, transcripts, and certificates highlighting academic achievements, a recommendation letter is the only impersonal document that duly talks about a person. Hence, invest the necessary time and effort in crafting a winning recommendation letter. In case of assistance, our advisors and editors at Manya – The Princeton Review can help to know more about crafting strong LORs.

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Are LORs important?

Yes, LORs are an important part of the application process. They present an impersonal perspective and highlight the candidate as a person – defining strengths, weaknesses, personality, and behaviour.

What should a LOR for USA include?

A LOR sample for USA should emphasize English Language Proficiency, adaptability, global mindset, and the ability for inclusivity in addition to leadership skills, team working abilities, and academic achievements among others.

What can I write in a LOR for MS in CS?

If you look at any LOR sample for MS in CS, you will see that it includes technical skill sets, creative abilities, problem-solving skills, communication proficiency, teamwork skills, and adaptability among other skills and achievements.

What should I write in an LOR?

If you pick up any LOR sample, you will see that it discusses the applicant’s strengths and achievements backed by relevant and specific examples that add credibility to the document. These include both academic and non-academic skills. Besides, you will also have to indicate the fit for the program that the candidate is applying for.

What should I not write in an LOR?

LOR should never showcase bias. LORs are impersonal documents and any form of bias may lead to direct rejection of the application. Also, do not submit a LOR fraught with grammatical and typological errors. Additionally, always back your claims with proper examples. A generic LOR does not have any impact on the application process.

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