When a student decides the career path, many questions come his/her way. It is always advisable to find the correct answers to all your questions before you move ahead. Hence, in a series of four blogs, you would find all the solutions to your frequently asked questions about letters of recommendations.
In part 1 of the blog series, we answered questions like what is a LoR, which programs need them and why, what is the ideal quantity et al. You could revisit that part here. In the part 2 of the series, online LoRs were introduced and answered. You could revisit that part here. Part 3 was more about online LoR and who is an ideal referee. Check that part here. So let’s get started with more and final set of answers.
What are the timelines for the recommendation?
Ideally, the recommendations must be submitted before the application deadline. Some programs clearly state that the application will be treated (and most likely rejected) as incomplete if the recommendations are not received before the deadline.
Otherwise, latest within two weeks of the application deadline, because your application will not be taken into processing no matter how early you submitted it, till the recommendations are received.
In some cases, such as the recommendation emails sent from Arizona State University or University of Southern California, the recommendation link automatically expires within 7 days and must be resent after 7 days. In such cases, the email clearly states the expiry date of the link.
What should a letter of recommendation look like?
First paragraph – introduce the referee, and his/her relationship with you in detail. Around 100-150 words.
Body paragraphs (2-4 paragraphs) – talk about your abilities, observations of the referee on these abilities, examples if any, to support these judgments. The description should use technical language to explain your strengths or abilities.
Conclusion – overall summary of the recommendation, with a clear statement how strongly does the referee support your candidature.
The above is just a generic version. You will find multiple samples online to give you some inputs on what is the text within.
I want to change a referee. Can I do that?
Yes. Most applications will allow you to do that, as long as the recommendation has not been submitted already. Just check in the online application on how to do it. Else, send an email to the program. If the recommendation has already been submitted, you will have to contact the program directly to grant an exemption. You will find the email ID on the relevant program page or the admissions page.
Will the recommendation status be updated immediately?
If the recommendation was submitted through the online link, it is updated in real time. If it is sent through an email, it might take up to 7 business days to be updated. If it is sent through hard copy, it takes up to 14 business days to match the recommendation with the application and update the status on the online portal.
What happens if my recommendations are delayed?
The application processing gets delayed.
Tell me more about the hard copy recommendations.
Recommendation letters printed on official (organisational) letterhead, signed by the referee, put into an envelope, and the referee signs across the flap, with or without the stamp of the organisation – that is an official recommendation. Please get originals – do not get colour photocopies. Such sealed envelopes need not have the university’s address unless the referee will send it directly to the program/university.
That’s it on this series of Letters of Recommendations. If you have more doubts, you could comment below. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
You can check our video on the same here
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