How to Write a Letter of Reference?
The letter of reference should be written by someone who can honestly evaluate the academic ability and potential of the student. Find out what the student's specific goals are before you begin writing the recommendation. You want to emphasize the aspects of his/her personality and academic performance that relate to that goal. The letter should include your status or job title. Please explain how long have you known the student and in what capacity (as teacher, an adviser, an employer, etc.). The better you know the student, the more effective your recommendation will be. Be as specific as you can and avoid generalizations. It is good to say that someone is hardworking and organized, but you need to back up these statements with concrete examples. Talk about what the student has done and is capable of doing. What is it exactly about the student that makes her or him special? Why do you think this student would benefit from studying in the US?
Evaluate the student by comparing him or her with other students you have observed in your work. The following is a suggestion of categories you may wish to use for comparison.
You can use phrases such as excellent, very good, average or below average.
- Intellectual Ability
- Work Habits
- Seriousness of Purpose/Motivation
- Knowledge of Academic Field of Studies
- Emotional Maturity
- Resourcefulness and Initiative
- Adaptability to New Situations
- Potential for Significant Future Contribution in Field of Studies
Quantify your impressions. Is the student in the top 5 % of his or her classmates, top 10 %, 25 %, 50 %?