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Letter de Recommendation

Écrit par Dr. Damaris Foping


You will usually be asked for at least two recommendations. Your recommenders (or references or referees) must be able to write about your work and be able to assess your potential to do well in graduate school. Ideally, they should be written by professors who have taught you in the past, if you are applying for an academic degree program; however, if you are not a recent graduate, one recommendation can be from an employer. For professional programs, references from employers and professors are acceptable.

Some universities send recommendation forms with the application; if so, ask your recommenders to use these forms and to follow the instructions printed on them. If there are no specific instructions, ask three or four professors, administrators, or employers who know you well to type letters on their own letterhead in English, and either place them in a sealed envelope for you to send with your application or send them directly to the university.

U.S. universities expect letters of recommendation to emphasize a student's positive qualities and to be longer and more detailed than might be customary in your home country. It is important to understand these cultural differences when choosing your recommenders. Poorly written, negative, or late recommendations will reflect on your judgment in picking referees. Recommendation forms may ask a list of questions or just one general question. Since   recommendations carry considerable weight in the admissions process, take the time to brief your recommenders about your plans, where you would like to study, and why.

A recommendation form may include a waiver where you can relinquish your right to see what is written about you. If this option is offered, most admissions officers prefer you to waive your right so that recommenders may feel more comfortable when writing their evaluations. Admissions officers usually interpret waived recommendations as more honest. If your recommendations must be sent directly from your referees, it is common courtesy to give them stamped, addressed envelopes. Also allow plenty of time for your referees to write their recommendations. Remind them to sign the sealed flap of each envelope before mailing it to an institution. Check back with your recommenders to confirm that the reference forms have actually been sent to the United States.

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