It tells us much about the applicant

Spending over three decades in the teaching profession, nothing disappoints me than the arbitrary attitude of students of providing my name to companies or universities without my consent. Instead, I wish to make a great case for a candidate with sheer determination and stellar academic credentials. So, here, I have gathered a few experiences gleaned as a teacher over these many years.

A recommendation letter or a letter of reference is a document that reflects the assessment of a teacher about a student’s character, academic excellence as well as his or her skill sets in taking the next step either in studies or in a career. Most of these recommendations are generally related to employment, admissions for higher education or for scholarships. They may be addressed to the officer concerned or, maybe in general, without specifying an addressee.

Make a good impression

Students request academic letters of recommendation from a former or the incumbent teachers, principals, deans and other education professionals who are familiar with the student’s academic experience or extracurricular achievements. This is one of the crucial steps in the process as most institutions may require at least one recommendation letter during the admission process. This is aimed at getting information about the candidate, apart from what has been asked in the admission forms. Many of these letters are forms themselves, which follow a template and have allotted points for each section. Here are some ways a student can persuade his or her teacher or authority concerned to write a credible recommendation note.

Students should produce intensive work in their respective areas or fields of research. This does not come by remaining a good student, but working honestly and paying attention to details, following deadlines in assignment submission and maintaining consistency. This polite and non-demanding attitude would add weight when the teacher is wording the letter of recommendation.

Reserve time in prioritising your faculty who words the recommendation letter. Choose a responsive faculty who can confirm your skills and character. And moreover, they should have taught you at least one subject during the course of your study at college or institution.  

The immediate task is choosing an appropriate faculty who provide a strong endorsement when it comes to applying for admission to universities within the country or abroad. Students should always choose a suitable faculty who is concerned with their area of interest. This would also enable them to gain precise knowledge on the subject chosen.

It is better to have a brief conversation with the faculty before you request them to write about your recommendation profile. The conversation would let you express your interest, academic achievements and other co-curricular activities, besides other achievements. Make sure that any information provided by your references corroborates with what you have written in your application. Inconsistent information can jeopardise your chances.

Do not overly impress on the faculty, provide them enough time to draft a letter as to how a student would evolve if given admission. Do not approach at the eleventh hour, it may lead to mental strain and may disorganise their thought.

Keep the faculty informed about the virtual application process beforehand so that the faculty is physically ready to attend to you at the right time and place in the form-filling process. Make sure the form or the letter is scanned, offer to get it done so that the faculty does not have to run around for this purpose.

Do not brag

If the faculty asks you to draft a letter, do not fill it with exaggerated reports about yourself. Let the content’s tone be neutral and sensible and the facts credible. Do not attempt to tamper the letter issued nor open the sealed envelope in any manner. Do not delay in forwarding the original letter to the admission office or authorities.

Never forget to express a word of thanks after the admission process is complete. Acknowledge that recommendation letters play a great value when applying for higher learning and hence influence the learning process right from the start of the course.

(The author is faculty, CHRIST, Bengaluru)

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