recommendation letters have to be written on
specially designed sheets of paper that come as part of your
application form. In some cases, letters on letterhead will be
accepted, if for some reasons, you canít use those special
pieces of paper. Read carefully what has been written in the
application booklet about such situations. Fill in the fields at
the beginning at the form that ask for your name, department,
etc. Take the forms to a professor who knows you and is familiar
with your skills or activity. Try to make sure the professor is
aware of who you are, what your interests are and understands
what you are applying for.
a busy professor will suggest more or less directly that you
produce a first draft of the text that he or she will correct
and sign. In some cases, this is the only way you can get a
letter that differs from the standard text every student gets
from that professor.
recommendation letter ideally starts by stating the
name of the professor who writes the letter and his/her title,
together with the name of the student for whom the letter is
written. The professor should also state since when has s/he
known the students: year, class or other activity. It should in
any case be clear that the professor had the opportunity to get
to know the student well and assess his/her capabilities.
assessment of the studentís capabilities should be made from a
multiple point of view over the next 3-4 paragraphs. From a
professional point of view, it should give account of the
studentís knowledge, interests and capabilities, activities and
results, work capacity, etc. Personally, it should assess the
studentís personal characteristics, character, social skills,
his or her relations with the students and professors. Same as
in other application documents, the direction should be from
facts/experience to qualifications, and from those, to value
judgments. Particularly those skills relevant for the desired
program should be outlined throughout the paper.
final paragraph should provide an overall assessment of the
studentís potential to fulfill the requirements of the program,
even though partial judgments can and should be provided in the
body of the letter.
recommendation forms contain a certain number of
fields, the multiple-choice kind, where the professor has to
assess, by checking cells, your abilities. Make sure those
fields are checked and insert the text in the place left for
additional remarks. We strongly suggest that you do not leave
blank that portion of the form, but use it instead as a
self-standing recommendation letter.