- LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
- Introduction to letter of recommendation
- The significance of recommendation letters
- Effective and compelling recommendation letter.
- Points to remember before asking a recommendation
- The common attributes of applicants for LOR
- RECOMMENDERS OF LOR
- The “recommenders”
- The choice of selection of potential recommenders
- Who are the potential recommenders
- Who cannot be a recommender?
- LOR’s which create doubts in admissions committee's mind
- The common challenges faced in choosing the “right recommenders”
- CATEGORIES OF RECOMMENDATION LETTER
- LOR from professors
- LOR from clients/peers/colleagues/co-workers
- LOR from supervisors/employers
- LOR for applicants with international work experience
- LOR for non-traditional applicants
- LOR for an applicant’s community works
- LOR for higher/advanced degrees’ applicants
- LOR for specific reason
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FOR A SPECIFIC REASON
There are times when the applicant has a specific reason to address, like gaps in work experience or education, any setback or failure or hardships in his/her life or for low scores or grades in education history or low GMAT score. Whatever be the reason, the author of the LOR should be one who can be honest, but at the same time needs to tactfully address the specific reason. This needs ‘being seasoned’ or experienced enough, to be able to attest the applicants’ reasons and put forth adequate substance, which the admissions committee notices positively rather than rejecting the candidate, for the above reasons (as they would be left without any answer for the above areas in the application form). Thus the key here is to choose such a recommender who can objectively validate the candidate and his reasons for a particular problem, and who has no vested interest in the admissions committee.
For easy understanding of this topic, we have divided it into three sections:
- LORS FOR GAPS IN WORK OR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY OR EDUCATION.
- LORS ADDRESSING A SETBACK/FAILURE/HARDSHIP.
- LORS FOR A LOW GRADE OR LOW GMAT SCORE.
LORS FOR GAPS IN WORK OR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY OR EDUCATION.
Many a times, the applicants face situations where there is a gap in their employment history or in their academic/educational career. If the gap is a period of six months or more, then he has to give sufficient reasons for it, explaining on the ‘whys’ of the gaps. It would be a good thing, if the applicant has tried to do something constructive in the time period, like some volunteer works or tutoring or starting a new business. A well written LOR here, pens the better accomplishments or activities which are praiseworthy, of the applicant, so that the focus is shifted from the loopholes of the application to a brighter side of the applicant.
An Example of such a LOR is below. It is on the time the candidate took off, for his father’s accident.
I am the Senior Advisor to an NGO - Manzil, a non-profit organization, which primarily deals with educating citizens on the road safety, traffic rules and taking care of the safety issues of girls/women. I know Ms. X, for the last 3 years, when our organization was fundraising and creating awareness in the Hindu College, for the safety issues faced by today’s women. She appealed as the brightest students on the campus, answering questions and being so involved with us, showing interest in taking our cause further. Ms. X was graduating with Sociology honors, and so her keenness for our mission, was well understood later.
From then on, though she was not actively involved in all of the NGOs work, I would often see her participating in other issues of Child Labor and the Girl Child education, as I am a member of the Hindu College advisory board too. There was a period of continuous four months, when I didn’t see her or hear of her, as I found out lately, her father had met with a traumatizing bike accident on the highway, and had been paralyzed. X had a younger brother, who was in secondary school. As her father- the only breadwinner for her family was bedridden, she had to look after the business. The family was into garments retail. She managed the family business, with full dedication. On one occasion, I had visited her, only to see the maturity and strength of her. She totally gave her heart and soul into it. She crossed all the barriers, and proved to everyone, that girls can do everything.
After six months, when her father became stable, she drove him to the office /shop and joined the college back. This time with double the vigor, she plunged into the community work of educating people on traffic rules, the effects of alcohol on driving, the basic precautions one can take while driving. She created amazing awareness in the small cities of northern India. Under her leadership, the fellow classmates were inspired, to find their path. X narrated her own incidents of life, her father’s accident, etc. to make people know the hazards of driving fast or too speedily, and how anyone could be a victim of it.
A year later X graduated with a 70 percent in her Final Exams, which was very difficult, with her kind of life’s battling situations of managing studies, family issues and business. Nevertheless, the business kindled in her, the desires of starting her own venture. This is the reason, she wants to pursue an MBA degree. I am extending my full support to her.
Please feel free to get in touch with me, for further elaboration, at my mail address or at my phone number.
Senior Advisor - Manzil,
LORS ADDRESSING A SETBACK/FAILURE/HARDSHIP.
There are many candidates, who have faced several hindrances and obstacles in life, while completing their education. These may be learning difficulties, personal health issues, linguistic deficiencies or cultural hindrances. But these applicants, mostly are the top performers with their dedication and tenacious nature. The only problem here is, for the admissions Committee, to distinguish between genuine ones and the mundane excuses. Here the author of the LOR is pivotal in attesting the applicant’s character.
An example of such LOR is below.
I am honored to write this LOR for Mr. Anuradha Mishra, who was my student. I am the Professor of Clinical Psychology, at Lady Shriram College, Delhi. I know Anu from the last 5 years, when she started her intermediate college with psychology as her main subject. This young vibrant girl is one whose intellectual capacities is beyond imagination. I have not seen a student like her in my entire teaching career of thirty years. Anu is raised by her aunt, as her parents died in an accident, at a very early age.
Anuradha, an avid reader, possessing strong analytical and logical reasoning capabilities, was the first student who rendered her full support to start the ‘Counselling of Early Teenagers, who faced either abuse of any kind, family pressures and female gender issues.’ I have seen her commitment and dedication for the project, by trying to implement certain theories practically. She patiently heard all the problems and then after careful thought and analysis, gave practical solutions to those problems. When she could not arrive at a necessary result, she used to consult me about what can and should be done to overcome the issues. Having herself being bought up by a person other than her own mother, she was more mature than people of her age. She knew the art of saying no, when one doesn’t want to say yes. Very aptly, she knew where to make her life’s focus.
With the only setback in her life, of having one of her legs (the right one) amputed, which she never took as a setback. This was due to an accident, she had when she was entering her early teens. She became more determined, as she knew she had to struggle more in order to keep in pace with others. She held the distinction in Clinical Psychology, in the entire state. Knowing of such difficulty, she managed her Time well in advance, so that she could complete assignments and practical at the given deadlines. I have rarely written Recommendation letters for any of my pupils, but I couldn’t have missed this one. Anu is a person, who is one in a million. She has a heart, who is so sensitive to people’s needs and that is what is critical to this department too. She has rendered her support of a voluntary organization here, for whom she does free sessions of counselling and seminars.
In her long term career aspiration of starting an organization, with members being different clinical psychologists and psychiatrists doing service for the humanity, she needs to do a MBA. I offer her my support without fail.
Please feel free to call me or mail me, for further questions or elaboration.
Professor- Clinical Psychology,
LORS FOR LOW SCORE /GRADE OR GMAT SCORE
Most International Schools and universities, use the standardized tests like GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS etc. to set the necessary cutoff for their incumbents. Some applicants, due to their low scores, explain this in optional essays section or an addendum attached to the application form. Unfortunately, this serves no purpose, as, if a candidate cannot perform well in a Standardized test, under time constraints, etc., means he would not be able to take the pressures of an international curriculum, and he cannot compete in the highly competitive pool. A credible writer, can write an impressive and compelling LOR here, only if the applicant has legitimate reasons for the same. The reasons which can be taken as legitimate are grade/score/percentage system difference between nations and foreign universities(which makes translating the different grades difficult, into those ones which are accepted in the applying school), certain professional commitments which are due to financial emergencies, military or army areas of commitments, a death of a family member or relative, an illness in the family or relative (like cancer), medical emergencies which are documented by a physician, English is not the native language, of the applicant and a learning disability which is documented, but he/she did not request for special accommodations in the Standardized Test pattern or Time. The important thing to remember here is to write the LOR in such a way, that the reasons don’t seem like excuses, rather they should enhance the application.
An example of such a LOR is below, for a low score, a score which is different for foreign nations, which makes it difficult to translate.
I am pleased to write this Letter of Recommendation for Ms.Sunita Rathor, who was my student. I am the Head of the Department of Information Technology at the KIITS University, Bhubaneswar. I have known Sunita from the last 4 years, when she was joined our College for her Engineering degree. She is one of the most diligent and sincere student, I have ever seen.
Apart from the various distinctions and awards she has received, Sunita is a motivated individual, who has been well ahead of her times, in terms of academics and knowledge of resources to excel in the fields she desired. She represented our college in the ‘India - Science Fair’, organized by the Late Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India. She showcased a novice system, used in telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data. Sunita consistently topped in all her semesters, thus placing her as the most eligible student for campus placements. She is also an excellent Kathak Dancer.
Sunita has excellent communication skills, apart from being a leader in her field of expertise. She completed and published three research papers in my subject. As part of the Engineering program, the student has to undergo two internships of 6 months each, which she did in reputed IT companies, which have documented her above skills in their certificates. She was elected President in her senior Year because of these high interpersonal skills. I still remember her, last speech on the convocation day, which brought tears in our eyes. She is cherished by all the pupils, including her teachers, etc., at the college. I came to know that day, that she is a motivational speaker/orator. Apart from English, Hindi and Marathi, Sunita is fluent in French and German too.
Sunita wants to pursue an MBA from your school, in order to go higher up on her career ladder. She wishes to join, at a management level after completion of the MBA.
The need of writing this LOR is only for the reason of documenting the difference in grade systems of the two universities, KIITS and your business School. Sunita secured a good 70 percent in her Subject, and stood 2nd in her batch of 200 students. Please measure the candidate’s ability according to the standardized tests therefore. She excelled in the GMAT, with a score of 620.
I offer her my strongest recommendations, please feel free to call me or mail me to discuss further about Sunita’s candidature.
HOD -Information Technology,