What should the letters say?
The letters should be honest and fair. A letter, which mentions some areas that the student has difficulty with as well as the areas in which he excels, will be taken more seriously than a letter, which only praises the student. Letters should describe the student's abilities and accomplishments, seriousness of motivation, academic promise, adaptability, and character. For graduate school applications, letters should also mention research ability, preparation, and promise in the field. Letters should describe any awards, special interests, skills, or distinguishing characteristics that the student has.
When possible, the letters should include the following information:
(for example: "This student was in the top 10% of a class of 60 students")
- How long has the writer known the applicant?
- What is their relationship (teacher\student, employer\employee. etc.)?
- A ranking of the student in comparison with his or her classmates
The following points may be discussed in a letter of recommendation:
- Intellectual Ability
- Knowledge of Field
- Work Habits
- Motivation to Pursue Study
- Seriousness of Purpose
- Potential for Significant Future Contribution in the Field
- Resourcefulness and Initiative
- Emotional Maturity
- Adaptability to New Situations
- Leadership Qualities