Learning how to write a college letter of recommendation is one of the top goals. It can mean the difference between a student getting into their dream university or missing out on a spot if they didn’t get this document right. Unlike some other countries, the United States’ universities and colleges are known for using a holistic approach to evaluating student applications. This means that rather than depending exclusively on grades and test scores, they want to get to know the student as an individual. This is where the recommendation letter comes in.
Besides the personal essay, letters of recommendation give admissions officers information they wouldn’t obtain from the rest of the application, and they help them get a true sense of a student’s personality – their hobbies, values, strengths, and ambitions. With such a significant role to play, recommendations carry a lot of weight in admissions processes and can often determine whether or not a student gets accepted.
We go over everything you need to know about writing a college letter of recommendation, including what should be included in one. This blog will also give you our best ideas/tips for helping you portray your students in the best light possible. There might be some different format if you are planning to write it for MIM in UK or MIM in the USA.
In a college letter of recommendation, what should you include?
If you’re a bit confused and trying to figure out how to write a college recommendation letter, then you should focus on what is there to precisely discuss in that letter. The requirements for recommendations differ slightly amongst US schools. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provides some helpful writing prompts. Here are a few examples:
- What is your relationship with the applicant? Please declare that you are unfamiliar with the application and can only provide a brief synopsis.
- Has the student shown a willingness to take intellectual risks and explore areas outside of the classroom?
- Is there anything about the applicant that stands out in terms of ability, talent, or leadership?
- What drives this individual to do what they do? What is it that they find fascinating?
- What is the applicant’s relationship with his or her teachers like in a group of people? Describe their social skills and personality.
- What about this individual will you remember the most?
- What makes you think MIT is a suitable fit for this person if you know anything about MIT? How do they think they’ll fit in at MIT and benefit from their time there?
- Is there anything unique going on in your family or in your neighborhood that we should know about?
Answers to all of these questions aren’t required (and, of course, these prompts are inquiring about an applicant’s fitness for MIT in particular), but they could be a nice place to start.
How to write a college recommendation letter
The counselor’s recommendation is intended to present a comprehensive picture of a student’s growth and personal accomplishments over their secondary school years. This could contain information about a student’s extracurricular activities, their impact on the school community, and how they could contribute to campus life at their selected university.
If you’re writing a letter of recommendation for a counselor, you should be prepared to mention any mitigating factors that may have impacted a student’s personal or academic performance, such as illness, family problems, or teaching and learning obstacles.
Ensure that each suggestion is unique
It’s tempting to reuse some of the same text, especially if you’re preparing letters of recommendation for numerous students. This is, however, something you should avoid at all costs. As a general rule, if a paragraph is generic enough to apply to a large number of pupils, it should not be included in the recommendation! Instead, make sure to emphasize each student’s distinctive skills, accomplishments, and why you believe they would be a good fit for their chosen university.
If you’re writing numerous letters of reference and finding it difficult to keep track of each student’s objectives, have them fill out a “brag sheet” with some of the crucial details you need to know.
Other portions of the student’s application should not be repeated
The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to supplement rather than duplicate the information provided in a student’s application. Read the student’s personal essay and any additional recommendation letters, and add any new material that isn’t mentioned in these documents.
Similarly, quantitative data such as test scores or activity lists are not required because these will be submitted by the student. Instead, concentrate on what these details reveal about the learner. Maybe they’re born storytellers or natural leaders. Or perhaps their good outcomes are the product of genuine dedication and enthusiasm for their subject.
Concentrate on the positive side
If you’re writing about a student’s best traits and most prominent accomplishments, you should do so with passion — a neutral or lukewarm reference could be detrimental to the student’s application. Though you should attempt to be as truthful as possible, mentioning a student’s rebellious streak in a letter of recommendation may not be the best place to do so!
To support up your claims, give specific examples
Simply mentioning that a student is “talented” or “hardworking” is insufficient. A strong letter of recommendation will contextualize a student’s talents, providing particular examples of how they excelled and why they made an effect on you. You’ll notice that they back up their comments about a student’s character qualities by citing a specific instance when the student demonstrated these attributes.
Quality over quantity should be your goal
While a college letter of recommendation does not have a word limit like a UCAS reference, it is advisable to keep it short. We recommend that your message be no longer than one page in length. This should be more than enough room to depict your students in a positive light if you’ve followed the other guidelines in this blog.
Abhyank Srinet is a passionate digital entrepreneur who holds a Masters in Management degree from ESCP Europe. He started his first company while he was still studying at ESCP, and managed to scale it up by 400% in just 2 years.
Being a B-School Alumni, he recognized the need for a one-stop solution for B-School to get in touch with schools and get their application queries resolved. This prompted him to create MiM-Essay, a one-of-a-kind portal with cutting-edge profile evaluation and school selection algorithms, along with several avenues to stay informed about the latest B-School Updates.