Whether you are applying for a scholarship like the Fulbright or Noon or you are applying directly to your chosen program, admissions and scholarship committees are always determined to select the best candidates. A letter of recommendation from a credible referee is of utmost importance – since your recommender can give insights into your work that tells the admissions panel about your potential to succeed in a graduate program.
In a reference letter, the very first thing that the admissions committee would want to look at is “How long have you worked with your referee and in what capacity”. A lot of applicants in Pakistan are mistaken that a letter from the CEO or Finance Minister of Pakistan is going to be the ideal one – however truth is that such a reference will have ZERO value. A good reference must always come from someone you have ideally worked with for at least 6 months.
Proof and Examples
I always quote this example from one of the recommendations provided by a faculty member in Pakistan:
“Since her enrollment into my course, Rabya has embodied the fine character of strong inquisition and industriousness in learning, which has gained her significant success during her course. “
This is an extremely poor way to write a reference – a strong recommendation letter should not contain a deluge of superlatives; your reference must contain examples that show your qualities and traits. Vivid examples that support your attributes is a must have – without these your reference will look as if it was “a cut, copy, paste, generic” kind of a reference that the referee gives out to anyone and everyone that asks for one.
Before I go on any further, here is a great example of a letter of reference that was written for a student who got into Stanford University in the graduate marketing program.
Note: I do not particularly agree with the ending though – i think the second last paragraph could have been much better and should have gone on to connect Rabya’s achievements, background with the particular program at Stanford. This one looks pretty generic again but the rest of it is pretty good.
To Stanford Graduate School of Economics
As the Professor of Emerging Markets at NUST, I have a very close understanding of Rabya’s academic capabilities. In the one year that I have known her, I am very impressed with her dedication to any endeavor she has been involved with. I would rank her in the top 5% of students that I have taught in the past four years in respect of her academic and intellectual ability. I have taught her one course; Emerging Markets in which she scored a ‘A+’ grade.
Under my supervision she successfully completed a project in exploring expansion opportunities for the air cargo industry in emerging markets like Pakistan. She concluded that Pakistan is an economy with a growing middle class and can be a possible opportunity for pharmaceutical shippers as they look to expand business and provide critical drugs and vaccines to more of the world’s population.
Rabya, through her insightful analysis, deduced that new markets, however, bring new challenges. I was particularly impressed by her recommendation that often in developing regions the infrastructure and logistics processes are less mature than in established markets. For air cargo, this places a higher premium on contingency planning and collaboration between logistics partners. In the end she and her team got the first position out of 14 groups.
I was thoroughly impressed from Rabya when once during a discussion with me on a very complicated analytical model, Rabya ran out of the room, pulled out three books from the library and learned about all the things she had never studied before. By next meeting she had put up an analytical model on my desk that came up with two different ways of evaluating risk on an investment.
Rabya distinguished herself by representing herself as a team lead for numerous in class projects and activities. This is also reflected in her grades for the courses that she studied from me which were among the best in the class. Rabya’s greatest strength is that she is an independent self-starter. On nearly all projects she has initiated all the team meetings and was the major contributor for all discussions.
She has recently discussed her intent with me of pursuing a postgraduate degree in Marketing from Stanford University – a prestigious institution. She possesses all the skills required to pursue a challenging postgraduate degree. It is important and necessary that she studies abroad so as to enlarge her scope of knowledge. Thus, I strongly recommend Rabya. Your favorable consideration of her application will be most appreciated. Should you have questions, please feel free to contact me.
Rabya has been taught all the courses in English and he has great command over it. NUST is amongst the top universities in Pakistan and its graduates are highly competitive.