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BeBeyond留学申请九步第七步:准备真正合适你的推荐信 [复制链接]

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发表于 2007-10-17 18:44:08 |显示全部楼层
The 9-Step Guide to Successful Applications to US Schools
[size=large]7. Get the Right References for You

What are the right reference letters for you? Think for a minute... Do you know the answers? If you are unsure about your answers, you probably should continue to think for a while.

Thinking is a good habit if you want to go to America. That is why BeBeyond 9-Step Guide devotes both Step 1 and Step 2 to "thinking." Don't ignore those steps if you really want to be successful!

Wrong Ideas about Reference Letters

Chinese students tend to have two kinds of wrong ideas about recommendation letters.

(1) Applicants with the first kind of wrong idea regard reference letters as something not that important. They think that as long as they can get two or three letters signed by their professors, make sure the grammar is correct, and send them out on time, they are fine. They believe that their scores will determine their fate regarding their admission and financial aid.

(2) Applicants with the second kind of wrong idea think that they need "powerful" recommendation letters. While it is true that reference letters should be "powerful," these applicants have wrong ideas as to what is considered "powerful" from an American's point of view. They often try to get a letter signed by a "famous" Chinese, Dean of their department, or Chief of their working unit.

Correct Ideas about Reference Letters

(1) Reference letters are extremely important. If you have high scores, admission officers want to also see evidence of your academic ability from your reference letters. They want to know you are not somebody who is only good at taking tests. If you apply for an Assistantship requiring certain skills or working experiences, admission officers hope that your reference letters will praise you for those skills or experiences. In short, good recommendation letters confirm your qualifications and, better yet, provide additional information about you that application forms and scores do not.

(2) In preparing reference letters, focus more on content. It is true that famous people may help to get attention from admissions officers. But how many Chinese are so famous that even Americans know about them? If the letters do not contain the kind of information needed, they are useless. Furthermore, if the contents are so badly written or the "famous" person really does not seem to have good reasons to write the letter, admissions officers may think that the letters are fake. So focus on the contents and make sure the letters confirm your qualification and provide additional, useful information about you.

(3) A good reference letter should be reasonable and specific. Reasonable means that the person writing the letter knows you well and has the qualifications to evaluate you. A famous professor has the qualification -- but if she has only met you once, she does not know you well. Her writing a letter for you is unreasonable; it won't help you.

Most Chinese reference letters are filled with vague praises. That is bad. A good reference letter cites examples, provides specific information, and tells little stories about the student. Without the specifics, an admissions officer's doubt comes back to the question: Does the author of the letter really knows the student well?

Only reasonable letters with specific information can convince admissions officers. Only these kinds of reference letters can be considered "powerful."

How to Prepare Good Reference Letters

Believe it or not, good reference letters may take 1-2 years to prepare! Here is why:

You need to get to know people who are qualified to write references for you. You need to impress them -- to let them know about you as much as possible, so that they eventually will be willing and able to write specific reference letters for you. All this takes time. You should start doing this as early as when you are a junior in college, in the case of applying to graduate schools.

Also, you need to know more than three persons who can write you references. That way, when one of them refuses to write a letter, you still have others to back up. This takes time as well.

Finally, when the time comes for you to ask for reference letters, be proactive and be direct! Not only ask for your references' permission to write a letter for you, but also tell them what you want in your letter. If they say that they cannot write the kind of things you want, go talk to another person. Your goal is to have the right kind of content in your letters!

You can rush to get reletively high GRE or TOEFL scores, but you won't be able to quickly obtain good reference letters and the writing ability and communication knowledge needed for preparing them. That is why you should start early!

(Jinbo Xie,

Go to Step 8: The Power of Application Essays>>

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发表于 2012-5-8 10:44:45 |显示全部楼层
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