An Effective Recommendation Letter: Sample

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Whether a letter is good or simply adequate depends not just on it's content but on how well it fits the program to which you’re applying. Consider the following letter written for a student who is applying to an online graduate program:

In this case, the student is applying to an online graduate program and the professor's experiences with the student are entirely in online courses. Considering this purpose, the letter is good.

The professor speaks from experiences with the student in an online class environment, presumably similar to what he will experience in an online graduate program. The professor describes the nature of the course and discusses the student's work within that environment. This letter supports the students' application to an online program because the professor's experiences speak to the student's ability to excel in an online class environment. Specific example's of the student's participation and contributions to the course would improve this letter.

This same letter is less effective for students who are applying to traditional brick-and-mortar programs because faculty will want to know about the student's real-life interaction skills and capacity to communicate and get along with others.

A Sample Letter of Recommendation

Dear Admissions Committee:  

I am writing on behalf of Stu Dent's application to the online master’s program in Education offered at XXU.

All of my experiences with Stu are as a student in my online courses. Stu enrolled in my Introduction to Education (ED 100) online course in Summer, 2003.  

As you are aware, online courses, because of the lack of face-to-face interaction, require a high degree of motivation the part of students. The course is structured so that for each unit, students read the textbook as well as lectures that I have written, they post in discussion forums in which they converse with other students about issues raised by the readings, and they complete one or two essays.

The summer online course is especially grueling as a full semester’s worth of content is covered in one month. Each week, students are expected to master the content that would be presented in 4 2-hour lectures. Stu performed very well in this course, earning a final score of 89, A-.  

The following Fall (2003), he enrolled in my Early Childhood Education (ED 211) online course and continued his above average performance, earning a final score of 87, B+. Throughout both courses, Stu consistently submitted his work on time and was an active participant in the discussions, engaging other students, and sharing practical examples from his experience as a parent.  

Though I have never met Stu face-to-face, from our online interactions, I can attest to his ability to complete the academic requirements of XXU's online master's program in Education. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx or email: