As an applicant, you understand how important your GPA and GRE scores are to the Admissions Committee. You know you must write an essay that tells your story and makes an impact on the reader, as well as shows how you are a good match with the program. Another critical component of your application are recommendation letters.
What’s the Purpose of the Letter of Recommendation
From the school’s perspective, the purpose of the letters is to provide them with other individuals’ perspective on your character and candidacy. The letters should complement the elements of your application and at the same time add to the reader’s knowledge of you.
From your perspective, the purpose of the letter is to strengthen your application and give the engineering programs more reason to admit you.
Who Should the Recommenders Be?
Most graduate schools request letters from at least one if not two former professors who can attest to your ability to succeed in a graduate program, including your depth of knowledge of technical skills and/or research you have conducted or products you have developed. Another letter is usually from a work supervisor who can discuss examples of your work accomplishments, as well as how you collaborate with team members, clients and supervisors. If they can describe your leadership roles or how you handle conflict situations, and areas of weakness that they believe you will strengthen with time and further education, it will make a more effective letter.
When choosing recommenders for your masters in engineering application, it is vital that they have:
1. The background and perspective that your target schools require. If they want academic recommendations, you need to talk to professors. If they want professional recommendations, you need to ask supervisors at work or from your internships.
2. The ability (AKA time) and willingness to write the letters.
3. Inclination to write a strong, positive letter.
When Should You Ask Your Recommenders? As you know, professors and employers do not have much free time. It is your responsibility to request their assistance with sufficient time for them to submit the letters. I recommend that you make your request at least six weeks in advance of your target school deadlines. Once you have agreements from three writers, it is important to provide them with the information they need to write a detailed letter.
How Can You Assist Your Recommenders in Writing Great Letters of Recommendation?
You should consider giving them any or all the following:
• Copy of your resume
• Copy of your masters of engineering statement of purpose
• A paragraph or two about the school’s program
• A bullet point list of what you would like this person to highlight in their letter
• Deadline by which it needs to be submitted with the appropriate website address.
It is important to send reminders as you get closer to the deadline or their good intention to help you out could get lost in the daily grind. Some of your contacts might ask you to draft the letter. This is not acceptable to schools. Instead, inform the writer that you will provide the information needed to make this as painless as possible.
For an application to be reviewed by your target schools, all information requested by them must be in their hands by the deadline, including letters of recommendation. Stay organized!
Follow these guidelines to ensure that the letters of recommendation for your graduate engineering application help you to gain acceptance to the program of your dreams.
Check out our Masters Application Package and work one-on-one with an expert admissions coach to help you determine your career goals, align your strengths with the strengths of your target programs, and then submit a winning application that will get you ACCEPTED! Learn more here.Want Karin to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Get Your Game On: Prepping For Your Grad School Application, a free guide
• How to Get Really Great Recommendations, a podcast episode
• 4 Qualities to Highlight in Your Masters in Engineering Application