Recommendation Letters for US colleges and universities

A Recommendation Letter is an important documents that will help you in securing admission to a US university / college. A well written Recommendation Letter will create a good image for you in the eyes of the admission officers.

Some, colleges / universities also require your qualitative analysis to be submitted along with your recommedentation letter.

In this section we discuss about the Recommendation Letter and the qualitative analysis:


General Information

Types of Recommendation Letters

Sample Recommendation Letters

Tips to get an impressive recommendation letters

General format of Recommendation Letters

Qualitative Analysis details

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FAQ's

From whom should I get a recommendation letter?

Do I always need to provide recommendation letters?

How many recommendation letters do I need to provide?

How should I send the recommendation letters?


General Information

A Recommendation Letter is a letter that describes your achievements, performances, qualities, strengths and weaknesses. A Recommendation Letter gives an idea to a person about who you are and what you are capable of.

A Recommendation Letter is written by someone who is familiar with you or who has observed you closely over a period of time in terms of your academic and professional achievements, knows your credentials, knows your performance under different circumstances, and is aware of your strengths as well as weaknesses.

Please note that some colleges / universities also require your qualitative analysis to be submitted along with your recommedentation letter.

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Types of Recommendation Letters

There are two types of recommendation letters:

Academic Recommendation Letter:

Academic recommendation letter describes your behavior, performance and achievements in your school or college. It is generally written by your teacher, principal, professor, dean, or academic advisor. However, the higher the authority of a person writting your reccomendation letter, the more weight your recommendation letter carries. For example, a recommendation letter written by the dean of your college or your school headmaster gives more weight than a one written by your teacher or your instructor.

Professional Recommendation Letter:

A Professional recommendation letter describes about your behavior, performance and achievements at your work place. It is generally written by your employer or by your immediate manager / supervisor. You can also get one from the human resource manager. The recommendation letter from human resources is normally more subtle than the one written by your manager / supervisor, because the human resource did not interact on a day to day basis (closely) with you..

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Sample Recommendation Letters

There are many sample recommendation letter available on the internet. Below are some examples:

Sample Recommendation Letter #1 (Source: boxfreeconcepts.com, 2007)

Sample Recommendation Letter #2 (Source: writinghelptools.com, 2007)

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Tips to get an impressive recommendation letter

  • Ask a person with whom you have good relations with to write a recommendation letter for you. For example, if you are in good relations with a particular professor or manager, request him for a recommendation letter. Many times, the person writing the recommendation will not tell you what he has written in the letter. Therefore, if you get the letter from a person who will not write good recommendation about you, then your admission will be jeopardized.

  • The higher the authority of the person, the better your recommendation letter will be. For example, a recommendation letter from a Professor carries more weight than one from an Instructor.

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General format of recommendation letter

A recommendation letter should address the following issues:
  • The recommendation letter should be on an official letter head of the school / college (for Academic recommendation letters) and of the company (for Professional recommendation letters)


  • Introduction of the person writing the letter (where does he work, what does he do, etc)


  • Specify in what capacity he knows you (eg., as a professor, manager, supervisor, etc)


  • How many years has he known you


  • What did you do for the writer of the recommendation letter (such as assisted in research or took classes under him or worked on a project)


  • How was your performance


  • What unique qualities you have


  • How does he think about you as a person


  • Any particular incident that highlights your achivement


  • Your strengths and weaknesses observed by him


  • Why he thinks that you deserve an admission in an US college / university


Qualitative Analysis details

If the college / university expect your reference to give a qualitative analysis on you, the college / university admssion office will normally provide a qualitative analysis template with questions regarding your quality / performance. Your reference are supposed to fill out that template based on his / her knowledge of your quality / performance / behavior

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From whom should I get a recommendation letter?

You should reuest a person with whom you have good relations with to write a recommendation letter for you. For example, if you are in good relations with a particular professor or manager, request him / her to write a recommendation letter for you. The person writing the recommendation is not supposed to tell you what he has written in the letter. Therefore, don’t ask a recommendation letter from a person, whom you believe will not write good recommendation about you, since your admission to the university will be jeopardi zed.

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Do I always need to provide recommendation letters?

Yes, especially if you are applying to a university. Some colleges waive this requirement. You should check the application requirements for each college / university to see if you need to provide a recommendation letter.

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How many recommendation letters do I need to provide?

Most colleges / universities will ask you to provide at least two or three recommendation letters. Check out the application requirements of your intended college / university to find out whether you are allowed to provide a professional recommendation letter besides an academic recommendation letter. Professional recommendation letters are normally acccepted if you are applying for masters program or for a PhD program, which prior work experience is necessary.

In most cases, the admission committee will make copies of your recommendation letters and forward it to the department where you plan to study for further consideration.

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How should I send the recommendation letters?

You should send the recommendation letters along with your admission packet. Please note that the each recommendation letter should be sealed in an envelope and the person writing the recommendation letter should sign on the area where the envelope is sealed.

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