What is a recommendation letter?
Students who want to apply for a university to pursue their education requires to present one or two recommendation letters that is written by School teachers for bachelor’s degree applicants and by university teachers for Master’s degree and PhD applicants because The assessment team /admission officers want to know the applicants’ character besides their scores and academic degrees.
There are recommendation letters (professional recommendation) that are related to the professional skills of the applicant and written by the employer.
Whom should I take the recommendation letter from?
The applicant can get the recommendation letter from the individual who can write something specific about the applicant and present accurate and realistic information about the applicant: your tutor, School teacher, university professor, employer, or colleagues.
It is not necessary to ask the recommendation from the famous personalities or those who would write general information about the applicant.
Important points about recommendation letters
Any recommender who writes a letter of recommendation should know that their letter must show the abilities and strengths of the students. The letter should explain the applicant’s achievements and their potential for success in the future.
- The individual who writes the recommendation, should the know the student/applicant very well and know about the applicant’s abilities, skills, strengths, intrinsic, character, leadership potential, involvement in the class and social activities and his/her achievements. If the applicant does not know the applicant, he/she can do one of the options below:
- Turn down/ reject writing the recommendation letter
- Ask the student to send his/her resume or set up a meeting with him to learn about the student’s skills and interest.
- The student/applicant should write the recommendation letter for him/herself.
- The recommender should know the rule of writing a recommendation letter.
- Content of the recommendation letter:
- One sentence or a paragraph about how and how long you know the applicant
- One or more paragraph about abilities, character, intrinsic, character, leadership potential, involvement in class and social activities, and achievements of the applicant written clearly and precisely. Preferably give the examples of mentioned characteristics if possible.
- In the last paragraph, you should write about why you recommend this person to the program he/she applies. And share your availability for extra information if required.
Some peripheral points:
- Select your recommender/reference an individual who has a phone number and E-mail address and regularly checks his/her email because the university may ask the extra information about the applicant through email.
- The recommender should be aware that a recommendation letter is an academic letter written in a clear standard structure.
- Do not COPY from other applicant’s recommendation letter but you can use it to help you write your recommendation letter. Never copy them.
- Hence most of the school teachers and some of the university teachers do not know what a recommendation letter is; it is advised to write your recommendation letter based on academic writing and points mentioned above and take for the signature to the school or university teacher.
Recommenders should pay attention to the following points as well:
- Before writing your recommendation, you need to know what opportunity has the applicant applied for? for instance, if the applicant is applying for engineering study, you can write about his/her passion about Mathematics and physics. If the opportunity is an award for community involvement, write about his/her volunteer work.
- Be positive, honest, and personal. Do not write general facts but Write your personal story or observation about your experience with the applicant.
- Write why you are qualified to write the recommendation letter ensuring to write about when you met the applicant for the first time and how long have you known the applicant.
- Write the relationship you have had with the applicant.
- Write your excitement/feeling about writing this recommendation letter
- Highlight the applicant’s strengths and his/her potential to succeed at the university s/he plans to attend. You can write about the academic performance of your student and how he/she manages assignments and challenging material showing why the applicant is likely to succeed in a higher education institution.
- Identify the two or three specific behaviors and qualities that are most meaningful to the admission team/employer. Ensure to use the keywords and phrases that show the student/applicant is a reliable and dedicated person.
- Please note that some scholarships/programs have their own format for recommendation letter, try to read the application guideline of each program you apply (if available).
A Simple Sample of a Recommendation Letter
To whom it may concern:
As a biology teacher at Habibia High School, I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Navid Nawisa for more than three years. He has been a dedicated person who stands out among his classmates for his ambition and enthusiasm. I wholeheartedly would like to recommend Mr. Nawisa to your program.
I was very much impressed with Mr. Nawisa as a student. His performance in the class indicates unique creativity and a very responsible attitude towards his education. Having served as his biology teacher, I found out that Mr. Nawisa always completed his assignments on time and with attention to details.
In addition to his academic excellence, Mr. Nawisa was also a pleasure for teachers and classmates to work with. He is easy-going, polite, enthusiast, and hard-working student. Even he is very serious and motivated in his pursuit of knowledge. He is also very humble and willing to listen to others’ ideas.
I do believe that Mr. Nawisa will continue to succeed in his studies. He offers an engaging personality and a highly motivated devotion to the study of Medical Science. For these reasons, I strongly recommend him for your program, with no reservation. If you have any question, please feel free to contact me.
Afkaar Tohgyangar – biology teacher
Habibia High School
Note: the materials provided above were written by Asadullah Mohammadi a member of Scholarship for Afghanistan, using various sources, especially an article written by Mr. Hussain Sitiz.