Three Best Persons to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

The Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is familiar to study abroad applicants like you, as an important part of every international university application process. Most international colleges/universities require you to submit a maximum of three LORs. These LoRs are thoroughly examined by the admissions committee and play a vital role in the final decision taken by the university with respect to an applicant. An LoR should emphasize the nature of the association between you (the applicant) and the referee and then should exhibit your talents and capabilities which should be substantiated with relevant examples.

How to shortlist the three best referees?

An LoR should not be taken lightly; your friends/relatives cannot be asked to write a LOR for you. Are you confused as to who will be the right referees to endorse your candidature? Well, here are a few pointers that can help you choose the best referees:

  • Duration of Association: Your chosen referees should know you at least for a minimum period of six months.
  • Nature of Association: 1) You should have worked closely with the chosen referees 2) the nature of association should be professional.
  • The referees must have a positive impression about you and your candidature for higher education; Seeking a recommendation letter from someone who does not have a positive impression about you, is worthless. The designation of the referees is not the key criterion for choosing your referees; rather it is the nature and duration of association that matters. Obtaining an LoR from a reputed person, whether an academic or a celebrity, under whom the applicant has not studied/worked, may be construed as a gimmick by the admissions panel and may back-fire.
  • The qualities enumerated in the LORs must be substantiated with examples; a poorly written LoR may fail to impress the admissions committee.

Who are your best bets in terms of referees?

The choice of recommenders depends on the degree/program you are applying to:

Undergraduate Program:

  • Teacher(s) (ideally for the subject you are opting for)
  • School Counselor
  • Principal (if he/she knows you well)
  • Peers (if the college in question specifically asks for the same)

Master’s/Ph.D. Program:

  • Lecturer(s)/Professors(s) (At least two recommenders)
  • Internship Supervisor
  • Project Guide
  • Present/previous direct supervisor (in case you have work experience)

MBA Program:

  • Immediate Supervisor
  • Previous Supervisor(s)
  • Any client you have worked with

Hope now you are clear on your best options in terms of referees. Before the content of the LORs, it is the choice of your recommenders which matters most. So, get ready to choose your referees!

By Arvind G Christo, Senior Editor


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