How Important are Letters of Recommendation for Graduate School Applications?

Do you feel like asking for a graduate school recommendations letter will be an awkward process? Do you worry about bothering your favorite professors? You’re not alone; many students are uncomfortable or confused about letters of recommendation. Graduate school admission requires many steps, and it can be hard for students to know which aspects of the application are most important. How important is a letter of recommendation? Your GPA? Your undergraduate activities? 

How Important Is A Graduate School Recommendation Letter?

Graduate schools ask for a lot of information from candidates. You’ll have to submit your official undergraduate transcript, relevant test scores and a personal essay detailing why you want to attend the program. All of this data is important for a successful application, but a letter of recommendation can make or break your chances at being accepted. A recommendation letter is the way for an admissions committee to get to know your personality. Are you mature? Dedicated to your studies? Able to get along with other people? These traits are important in graduate school, and your GPA or personal statement can’t convey them. For example, you probably know an all-star student who gets an A+ on every assignment but has no social skills, or someone whose parents are forcing them through school. Graduate schools don’t want that kind of student. Your graduate recommendation letter is a chance for professors to showcase your personality.

How to Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation

College professors have many tasks: Teaching classes, conducting research, mentoring students, seeking funds and writing letters for past students. Although teachers are busy, part of their job is writing letters for students. You aren’t bothering your professor by asking for a grad school recommendation letter. Plus, to have a successful career in academia or the private sector, you have to be comfortable asking for help. 

How to Get a Strong Graduate School Recommendation

Do you have a favorite professor? Someone you’ve taken multiple classes with who always enjoys your papers and gives you As? This teacher should be able to write a good letter for you. Contact them well in advance and ask if they can write a strong letter. Give them your resume and statement of purpose for graduate school. Talk to the professor about the programs you’re choosing, your interest in advanced studies and why you would be a strong candidate. You want the professor to be able to make you sound amazing, which means they need to know what a great student you are. The more information you can give them, the better.

Participating in extracurricular activities will also help you earn a good letter of recommendation. Joining a research project or a student organization is a great way to get to know professors and demonstrate your dedication to academia. Remember, grad schools want to see that you’re passionate about what you study, so find ways to convey your interest outside of the classroom.

Don’t worry if you haven’t cultivated a strong relationship with a professor. You can build one in just one semester. As long as you’re bright and passionate about your subject material, you will have no problem finding teachers to write graduate school recommendations for you.

For more information, check out “Cheapest Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees“.