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Recommendation Letters - Study in USA

A very integral part of the application process is submitting ‘Recommendation Letters’ that describe your strengths. Most colleges in the U.S and other international countries require students to submit 2 or more Recommendation Letters along with their application forms and other documents. This is a mandatory requirement and your application form might not be considered if you do not submit these letters along with the form.

Also referred to as ‘Teacher Evaluations’, these Recommendation Letters help colleges differentiate students by learning more about their academic and personal characteristics. They are supposed to be written by the teachers who have taught the applicant in high school, and should provide an honest viewpoint about what the teacher thinks about the student.

Colleges use these Recommendation Letters to know from the teachers about the student’s learning process and capabilities. These Recommendation Letters help colleges understand how a student behaves in class and what are his/her intellectual pursuits. The basic purpose of these letters is to determine whether the student was regarded highly by his/her teachers or not. Recommendation Letters help colleges choose between applicants who have similar educational qualifications and can make a major difference to the overall strength of your application.

You will be asked to submit at least 2 Recommendation Letters from 2 different teachers by most colleges. Ideally, these Recommendation Letters should be written by teachers who have taught you in the last period of your schooling years, i.e. Class 10 to Class 12. It is considered to be beneficial to choose those teachers who know you well as a student as well as a person and who have taught you in subjects that are related to your intended Major.

Your counselor will also be asked to submit a Recommendation Letter as a part of the ‘School Report’. Some colleges also accept additional Recommendation Letters that highlight the qualities of the student apart from academics. These additional Recommendation Letters are completely optional and not sending these along with the form does not go against you.

How to write/submit these Recommendation Letters?

You can select these teachers to write your Recommendation Letters online as well as offline. Most International students choose to follow the online method as it is very convenient. You will have to use your online account on the website that you had used to create your application to request a teacher to write a Recommendation Letter for you.

First complete all other sections of the application form on the application website. Then select a college you wish to apply to. Go to the ‘Assign Recommenders’ section and invite a Teacher by entering his/her E – mail ID. An invite will be sent to the teacher and he/she can choose to accept it or even choose to not write your Recommendation Letter. The teachers you send this invite to will have to create an account on this website, fill in the form, upload your Recommendation Letter and submit it online.

On the website, teachers will be asked to talk about how ideal you are for your intended Major or subject area. They will have to talk about the educational institution that you studied in and describe the overall impression that they have of you. They will also be asked to rate you on the basis of your academic and personal characteristics. Apart from this, teachers will also have to answer questions describing their thoughts about you as a student and as an individual. They will have to talk about the kind of equation they share with you and specify which subjects they have taught you and for how long. Teachers will also be required to upload a document in which they will talk about you as an individual and why they recommend you for the program.

Tips for effective Recommendation Letters:

Choose the teachers who you share a good rapport with and who know you well as a person and as a student.

Do not choose teachers who have taught you in subjects that are not a part of your core academic curriculum such as Physical Education, Home Science etc. This will not be applicable if your intended major is in a field related to these subjects.

It is advisable to remind the teacher about your academic and personal achievements so that they do not forget to mention any of these in the Recommendation letter.

Go through the college’s requirements beforehand as some colleges might have prescribed formats for Recommendation Letters that are to be followed.

Do not send too many additional Recommendation Letters as most colleges do not accept more than 3 letters (2 from core subject teachers plus 1 additional).

Request the teachers well in advance so that they have ample time to write your recommendation. Make sure that they are well informed about the application deadline.

Study in USA