The Common Attributes of Applicants that Todays International Schools and Universities seek in a LOR.

“Nothing endures, But Personal Qualities.”- Walt Whitman.

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of the human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the all others.”-Aristotle.

“Patience and Persistence, are the crowning qualities of self-confident champions.” - Dr. Robert Scheller.

Some great quotes of some revered personalities of the world. All of them have the same central message to convey, it's more about the Person in you, the attributes and characteristics that make you, the behavioral traits of you, which people see, rather than the academic and theoretical knowledge you have on the subject you have specialized. As the latter can always be substantiated by one’s grades and scores.

In the similar manner, most international universities, including the US schools also follow this approach, of knowing the person behind you, the Soft skills that you possess. These are the intrinsic traits of a person, which enable him/her to perform and excel or fail in a particular task. For Example: For the evaluation of Professional strengths we can choose Communication Skills (as a person can do well in his job only if he communicates well, it is an important milestone for professional wellbeing), but communication skills of an individual have to be reviewed in a way of how easily he can make himself understood, his interpersonal skills, his power of expression and clarity in speech and writing.

When we are talking of Recommendation Letters, most Schools have their own set pattern standardized evaluation/appraisal forms, which the Recommender has to fill. These forms enlist the inherent individual traits of soft skills like communication/interpersonal skills, teamwork, maturity, self-confidence etc. Broadly speaking, the schools categorized the individual traits into academic abilities, professional strengths, personal qualities and motivational skills. All of the above has a set of smaller/finer skills which help in the smooth carrying out of the particular main skill. The recommender has to give his rating to the subsets also. So implicitly, people who can appraise these skills and are willing to do so, are the best recommenders to choose. The Recommenders rate their experiences with the particular candidate, keeping in mind the candidate vis-à-vis others and then give a final rating for each sets/skills.

Universally, all schools will look for four basic individual characteristics, across candidates from all profiles and nations. These are Language skills, Analytical/Quantitative and Reasoning abilities, Problem solving capabilities or Thinking differently or ‘Out of the box’ and lastly, ability to mingle and sustain in a diverse and collaborative set-up.

One should remember here, that the chosen recommender should throw ample light about the candidate in these areas, if there is no evaluation form given.


  • Language Skills - Conciseness and clarity in reading/writing and speaking, confidently answers questions.
  • Analytical / Quantitative / Reasoning skills -data interpretation, logic, mathematics, scientific bent of mind.