Recommendation Letters: Can they really make a difference?

We all know how important letters of recommendation are to the application process for universities, graduate programs, and the job market. It is regarded as the most significant component of the application at times. A referee might even directly call particular departments or professors if they want to strongly endorse someone.

When applying to postgraduate schools, there are a total of 99 issues to be concerned about, but recommendation letters (RLs) present a special kind of stress because they appear to be beyond your control. While you may be able to slightly raise your GPA over the course of a semester or spend an additional hour polishing your writing samples, the opinions of your RLs' writers are, in general, out of your control.

Choosing a Deadline (s)

Decide when you want to send in each of your RLs first. There are several RL deadlines, and some programs do accept RL submissions after the application deadline.

However, it could be wise to err on the side of caution and use the deadlines for the individual applications as the deadlines for the RLs, especially because doing so would leave you with fewer critical dates on your calendar.

In my instance, I went one step further: I set a countdown on the main screen of my laptop and made the application deadline for the earliest programme the deadline for everything (I love my apocalyptic countdowns).

While Applying to postgraduate school:

The majority of master’s programs demands a minimum of two RLs and do not anticipate more. In some uncommon circumstances, like when I was applying, my top option, three are necessary. The norm for PhD programs is often three letters. Knowing this, make sure you have a sufficient number of writers who are willing to supply your RLs.

Before you even considered postgraduate school, you will probably already have one primary letter writer in place; in my case, that was the person who oversaw my undergraduate thesis. Consider the instructors in classes where you excelled in addition to enjoying the subject matter when choosing your other writers.

Believe me when I say that teachers can detect whether students are enthusiastic about their classes and even favor those over those who perform exceptionally well but exhibit little excitement.

Building a strong connection with your mentors:

Even if it could be too late, consider whether you can now start a productive connection with your letter writers. Before they submitted an RL for my applications, I immediately acquired a research assistantship with a professor. During that short time, they were able to get to know me better as a student and researcher.

They will have their last impression of you when they write your RLs if you manage this process of finding and working with your writers well. That alone, in my opinion, greatly increases the likelihood that you will receive the optimal letters!