In the application process, the reference letter is of fundamental importance. Students often do not consider it as valuable as the Polytechnic Diploma or A-levels. Still, references hold significance as they are helpful for admission committees to make a decision about an applicant apart from the candidate’s academic record.
Every educational institute has its requirement about the recommendation letters. Some only demand referrals from your professors while others ask for a recommendation letter from existing or former employers if you want to take a Masters course.
Some colleges and universities often require a recommendation from peers or a professional who has been your mentor in some project apart from your organization. These recommendations will enable educational institutes to assess your social skills.
The person who writes your recommendation letter might enhance or minimize the chances of your admission in your desired institute. So, make sure you choose your reference wisely. International students should understand the value of reference letters or recommendations for a successful application to a college or university.
Ten Tips to Get An Impactful Recommendation Letter
1. You should choose someone familiar with you. If your professor has detailed information about you as an individual and as a student, you will be able to get a better recommendation. Personal relationships with peers may result in strong recommendations.
2. Once you have requested your peer, manager or teacher to be your referee, discuss with them. Let them know about your motivation and ambitions to study further. Explain to them regarding any specific college or university that may be in your mind. It is in your best interest that your referrer knows about your choice and your approach toward that educational institute. Seek advice from them.
3. Give complete details of your accomplishments to your referee, including a CV or any vital piece of information that you think will be significant to mention.
4. Be unique! The letter containing more specific and personal details about you will be better. The admission officers deal with several recommendations that may have general information. Such applications do not make an impact on the admission officers.
5. Instead of listing down your achievements, including in-depth personal stories with distinguishing features that academic committee might find interesting.
6. Avoid generalization! The letter containing common adjectives are not helpful as most students list them. You need to highlight the unique characteristics of your personality to make an impact.
7. Do not obtain recommendations from renowned personalities if you have not worked with them. Your referee should have first-hand knowledge about your accomplishments. Sometimes students get recommendation letters from CEOs and even senators. Still, if they have not worked with them, these reference letters do not give a complete insight about the candidate, says Jay Bhatti in the article An Inside Look at the Brutal Business School Admission Process.
8. Do not rush the things and give your referees enough time to write the letter for you. Provide them with envelopes stating necessary information with the stamp, address and the complete details of educational institutes and the deadlines. Make sure each form contains a due date.
9. Thank your referee as they are writing the all-important reference letter for you. Show them that you are grateful to them as they are taking the time out of their busy schedule.
10. Let the referee know about the result of your application.
Is the Reference Letter Important for Every International Student?
If you aspire to take admission in a foreign university, this question may strike your mind. Usually, reference letters are your introduction. In other words, these letters serve as additional evidence about your capabilities that you are a genuine student, and you aim to complete your degree successfully.
For instance, if you are applying for a Computer Science course, it will be valuable to obtain a recommendation letter from your manager in a tech organization instead of a recommendation letter from the company where you have served as a customer service agent.
Considering the importance of the reference letter, make sure you ask about it in advance so that your application process completes well on time.
Is Project Description or Portfolio Necessary?
A specialized programme such as Masters of Science or Research requires project description. Portfolios are the requirement for the students applying for Masters in the Arts, Architecture and Design.
The educational institutes want to know your experience through collections and the overall skills that you possess in the particular field of study. They would also like to get information about your clients and the projects you have worked on.
A project description is especially essential when student apply for a discipline that will require a research thesis at the end. The project description should have the following details:
- What will be your area of research and why
- How is your research as of now
- How you will carry out your research
- What are your expectations about the findings of your study and how it could contribute to the body of knowledge
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Your CV serves as a business card for you. Generally, the educational institutes are not interested in the details of your work and extracurricular activities, but you must include them. The universities check as to how your experience makes you a suitable candidate for the programme you are applying for.
Therefore, you should mention your published academic papers and job (unpaid or paid), and any other relevant details. For example, if you are applying for a Psychology programme, you would like to show if you have succeeded in getting your study published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Finally, the reference or recommendation letters are your comprehensive introduction, and as an international student, you should understand the value of reference letters.
Apart from your academic achievements, the colleges and universities abroad want to have an insight as to what your peers and employers think about you. So, have someone as a referee who has first-hand knowledge about you as an individual and a student.