Whom to take LOR from?
Admission committees get an exhaustive pool of applications, and hence letter of recommendation carry considerable weightage. While a well-written Statement of purpose gives an opportunity to the student to showcase himself/herself to the admission committee, a nicely drafted letter of recommendation is a chance for the professors/bosses to help the applicant put their best foot forward. A gleaming LOR can help the admission committee in making admission constructive decision regarding a candidate, and for that reason, you must be extremely careful while selecting your recommenders.
Please take the below-mentioned factors into consideration before you finally zero-in on your recommenders:
1. Interaction with the professor: You must preferably get your recommendation from a professor who has spent a sufficient amount of time with you to be able to appraise you thoroughly for the program applied for. Someone who has taught you subjects which are in alignment with your future courseware will be an ideal referee to evaluate your potential. When it comes to professional recommendations, you can get it from your immediate supervisor who can give an inclusive picture of your skills and capabilities.
2. Rapport: Spineless recommendations can do more harm than good to a student’s future. Your recommendation must be able to project you in the best light and hence you must not settle for anything less than an outstanding recommendation, which you can only get from professor / Supervisor you share a great rapport with. A quality LOR is anytime better than two lousy ones. Please speak to your professors/boss and discuss your higher studies plan with them at length to help them in understanding your requirements. A copy of your SOP, resume and other relevant information pertaining to projects/assignments done under their supervision will aid them in putting across your undertakings and accomplishments in the best possible manner.
3. Availability and commitments: While the recommender may have the best intention to help you, you can still land up in a tight spot if their commitments are not allowing them to devote required time for a recommendation. The last thing that you want to hear is that your professor forgot to upload your LORs before the deadline and hence a reason for your rejection. Please check their engagements and obligations before you finalize your recommenders. Select someone who not only enthusiastically supports your application but is also ready to walk extra miles for you, if the need be. Remember to send a gentle reminder to your professors at least fifteen days before the deadline and regularly follow up till the time your recommendation is finally uploaded.
4. Ace subject professor: The prospect of getting the best evaluation is something you must not miss out on. It is a good idea to get your recommendation from a professor who has taught you subjects you were best at and can substantiate their positive opinion about you with concrete examples. If they consider you as the cream of the crop in your class, they will end giving you genuinely appreciable comments.
5. Paint a holistic picture: Try getting at least one recommendation from someone who has known you outside the classroom setting and can speak convincingly about good things pertaining to your extracurricular activities and key strengths and thus, make you sound like a cut above the rest. Admission committees are not just interested in your academic achievements but also are looking for well-rounded individuals who can add value to the university through their versatility.
An outstanding LOR from your Core subject professor is any day better than a lacklustre recommendation from a Fulbright professor.