Recommendation letters are one of the most critical items during a college application. With the exception of a few universities, most institutions ask students to provide at least one recommendation letter written by an academic instructor. A letter of recommendation attests to the strengths of a student. It tells the admissions committee what grades cannot.
Some universities ask for only one recommendation letter while others ask for several. Make sure you review the application instructions carefully to avoid last minute surprises. If you wait for too long before confirming the number of recommendation letters needed, you may find that you do not have the right person at hand to prepare the needed recommendation letters for you.
Consider Who You Want To Write Your Recommendation Letters
Most international universities request at least one letter of recommendation. Often, you will be required to provide two or three letters of recommendation written by separate people. Since you are limited in the number of letters you can request, it only makes sense for you to think carefully about the person you want to write the letter for you.
If, for example, your target university required two letters of recommendation from your teachers, you need to consider some of the following factors before you decide which teacher to write the recommendation letters for you.
- Have you taken a class with the teacher you are considering to write a letter of recommendation for you?
- How well did you do in the class?
- How long has the teacher known you?
In general, you should choose a teacher who you have known for a long time and who you are certain has a favorable impression of your abilities and work ethic. If you are allowed to submit a recommendation letter from someone other than your teachers, you also need to consider the people you select carefully.
Do they know you well? Do they have a high opinion of your work and abilities? Unless you have answered these questions satisfactorily, do not ask for a recommendation letter from anyone.
Keep Recommendation Letter Deadlines in Mind
It is important to keep in mind the recommendation letter submission deadlines. Failure to get your recommendation letters submitted on time will most likely lead to rejection of your application. Because teachers and employers are busy people, it is highly recommended that you request for a recommendation letter at least three months before the deadline. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for a recommendation from your teachers because they may not have the time to write it.
Prepare Any Required Materials for Recommendation Letters
It is important to provide your recommenders with any helpful information that they will need to write you the best recommendation letter. These may include a resume, a “brag sheet” that contains all your awards, achievements, and extracurricular activities. Some teachers may ask you to draft key points you would like to be highlighted in your letter of recommendation – make sure you prepare any documents requested by your teachers in advance.
Set up an Appointment With the Recommender
The biggest mistake you can make when looking for recommendation letters is to simply put the name and email of your teacher on the application portal before consulting the said teachers. Before you do that, make sure you speak to your prospective recommenders in person or if that is not possible, just send them an email explaining that you would like to get a recommendation letter from them.
Let the Recommenders Know More About You
During your meeting with the recommenders, make sure you tell them all about yourself and the places you intend to apply to. Let them know which schools you are applying to, why you are applying to those particular schools, the expected deadlines, why you think you are a good fit for those schools, etc. Giving recommenders this kind of information makes it easy for them to write the best letter of recommendation for you.
Following Up on Your Recommendation Letters
Once you have met your prospective recommenders, don’t just sit back and assume that the letter will be submitted on time. Keep in mind that your teachers are busy people with many obligations; it is your responsibility to follow up about the status of the recommendation letter. Keep doing so until you receive confirmation that the letter has been successfully submitted. Once that has happened, remember to thank your teachers for taking the time to write you a letter of recommendation.
Recommendation letters are a crucial part of college applications. To get the best letters, make sure you speak with your teachers several months in advance, provide them with the necessary information, and remind them to submit your recommendation letter on time. Like any other aspect of study abroad application, recommendation letters need time and thought. It is up to you to ensure that you are proactive enough to get the most useful recommendation letters that will boost your chances of getting admitted to your preferred international universities.
Want to learn more about recommendation letters? Check out our other articles on the topic by clicking on the links below!
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