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How to Write Worthy Recommendation Letter

September 22, 2020

It is for persuading members of the selection committee that you are the right candidate for getting a scholarship. A recommendation letter is a brief description of your personality from somebody (your professor, mentor) who knows you well from some educational or professional perspective. Usually, this letter covers the next aspects:

  • background; 
  • achievements;
  • skills;
  • aspirations.

This list is not exhaustive. Still, some principal aspects can make your letter winning.

How to increase your chances while drafting a recommendation letter?

The foremost point here is to define clearly your purpose for requesting this financial assistance. It should be clear for yourself first. And you should express it in the same clear manner to your target organization. It should be obvious that your goal aligns with the purpose this organization has.

Another equally important thing is to make matches between those things you can propose and those things that a target organization requests from the applicants. Carefully review all applicable requirements and list the most important. To help yourself, take a separate paper and indicate such requested matters on the one side of your paper. On its other side indicate all experience and skills you possess. Look to find matches between these two parts. Complete matches are your strong points, so you should focus on them while writing. Where you see less relevance, think about how you can describe your experience so it could at least indirectly indicate your compliance with the stated requirements.

Your letter should sound confident. All statements you want to express should be strong. This is important to persuade your future reviewers that your intention is serious, and you have enough inner motivation for completing your studies successfully. A person who recommends you can prove this by giving concrete examples. This will be the best approach to apply.

About requesting a recommendation letter

When you start choosing persons for requesting recommendation letters, select those who know you well, at least for one year or two. This is important. A person who interacted with you more can tell about you more receptively. Also, it is better to discuss with the choose persons what things they can confirm and what is the best manner for describing them. This person also should have a relation to the area of your prospective studies.

It is always better to request this letter personally. If you can reach this person, you should make an appointment for discussing all the valuable aspects of your future letter. This is important to make your cooperation more coherent and, consequently, faster. Otherwise, you may use email or phone. 

Also, take care of obtaining this letter beforehand. It should be requested at least one month before the anticipated date of submission. It is important to have enough time for negotiations and to rewrite this letter.

If we speak about its content, special emphasis has to be made to concrete achievements you have. They should also be related to the scholarship program you are applying to. If you have performed well without extra financial assistance, you can likely achieve more with it. That is what all scholarship organizations are looking for.

Other important things to discuss are your skills. They are equally important for proving the suitability of your candidacy to certain requests this organization has. Again, apart from the simple description, all skills should be supported with examples.

The last aspect that has to be ensured is your maturity for completing these studies. Only a mature person can dispose of any funds effectively. Getting a scholarship is also a type of disposal. Emphasizing this aspect by a person who recommends you can increase your chances.

Depending on the type of scholarship, other important aspects may be covered. For instance, a part of your letter may be related to the prospective research you will be able to conduct thanks to this scholarship. Make special emphasis here to its possible results and practical implication. 

After you have discussed how this letter should look like, it is better to start writing promptly. 

Writing

To help yourself, you may find a lot of examples on the Internet. They may help but still be critical at this point. If you need a customized example for your case, you may always order such from professional writers.

For extra help, you may find previous graduates of the program you are applying to and request their recommendations about writing. They can share useful tips that you could not find elsewhere. Various forums can also help you at this point. Still, to be on the safe side, suggest relying only on those pieces of advice that have been obtained personally.

For writing, you should devote your special attention. After discussing with a person who will recommend you all details of the future letter, you may outline it. This will help in the course of writing to mention all the important ideas for sure. Plan this work ahead, so you could amend this letter if this is necessary. So, how its outline should look like?

Basic structure of a recommendation letter

Well, traditionally, any letter of recommendation should comprise:

  1. Its introduction where a person who recommends you introduce oneself, tells about himself/herself, circumstances of acquaintance with you, and for how many years he/she knows you.
  2. The main part of a letter should contain a brief description of your candidacy, your skills, experience, background, achievements, and other information that can present you to the selection committee from the best side. 
  3. Its conclusion that should contain a summary of all previously mentioned statements and suggestion to contact a person who recommends you for more details.

Main writing tips

For writing, here are tips that can help a person who recommends you: 

  1. A recommendation letter should be positive in tone. The future reviewer should have a feeling that both an applicant and a person who recommends him/her are positive-minded.
  2. Keep this letter short but informative. Reviewers will likely have not too much time for studying each letter precisely.
  3. Apply the storytelling approach but keep this letter formal. It should be easy to read and perceive. All important facts should be presented simply, and they have to be related to each other. For ensuring the readability of a letter, suggest applying various free online editing tools.
  4. Avoid any type of clichés, use strong words and personal characteristics.
  5. Ensure this letter answers all the most important questions of the application process. It should be drafted to the point.
  6. Follow all formatting requirements strictly. Indicate all details that are required for this letter.
  7. Avoid any kind of plagiarism.
  8. Check its grammar and punctuation. Print this letter out and read from a paper. This can help to notice any remaining mistakes.

Example

Here is one example of a recommendation letter for pursuing a Master’s degree. You may adapt it to your needs.

[date]

[title of a university]

[mailing address of this university]

Dear [indicate the name of a contact person],

Thank you in advance for your consideration. I am a [indicate the person’s role]. This year I am happy to recommend my good student [indicate the student’s name] for studies [indicate the title of a program]. I know this student extremely well for [indicate the number of years] and have taught [indicate the subjects] to him/her. Moreover, I also worked with a student as a direct mentor for preparing various academic articles. After this cooperation, I can give only the best recommendations to this student as one who can cope effectively with workloads of [indicate the title of a program]. 

Precisely, [indicate the student’s name] showed effectiveness in the course of studies and was able to grasp quickly any new matters on the subject. He/she can think critically and thoroughly about all subject-related matters, provide valuable reasons and conclusions. The thing I liked most of all during the studies was that [indicate the student’s name] produced fast new valuable ideas about problematic matters on the subject. For instance, [briefly describe an example].

I also involved a student for various academic researches on the subject that were related to [indicate the topics of researches]. As a mentor of [indicate the student’s name], I helped him/her to write some articles:

  1. [indicate the title of an article].
  2. [indicate the title of an article].

Also, thanks to his/her persistence and purposefulness, [indicate the student’s name] managed to win the following competitions:

  1. [indicate the title of a competition].
  2. [indicate the title of a competition].

Apart from remarkable educational achievements, [indicate the student’s name] also proved to be a true leader in his/her group. He/she always took proactive effort for organizing various charitable events and managed to encourage his/her peers for participating there.

[indicate the student’s name] is a very pleasant person who can deal effectively with any kind of person and find the most effective model of communication. I know him/her as a mature student who can tackle effectively any challenge. So, I consider him/her as a person who can pursue studies [indicate the title of a program] effectively. She/he has already proved to be a persistent student who can achieve concrete results.

If you need more information about my student, I will be glad to provide you such. Please contact me without hesitation.

Kind regards,

[indicate the name of a person who provides a letter]

[indicate contact details of a person who provides a letter]

Final words

Obtaining a good recommendation letter can open many doors. So, make sure you choose a person who knows you well and can provide you with the best recommendations. This person should highlight in his/her letter of recommendation your main characteristics, achievements, skills, and qualities. Describing such should be supported by certain examples. This letter should be positive in tone and present you as a mature person who can cope with educational challenges.

For a letter of recommendation, it is always better to start beforehand to organize everything well. But, if you and a person who can recommend you are overloaded and have no time, professional writers can always assist you with this drafting. In the case of very complex cases and highly-demanding programs, professionals also can help to increase your chances of success.

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