Mastering the Art of Letter of Recommendation (LOR) for Your MS in Germany

This article explains the importance of writing a strong letter of recommendation for your German university applications. Learn about what to include, who to ask, and how to improve your LORs with the help of experts. Get started on your LOR today!

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A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) might seem like a mere document, yet it can be a defining piece in your study abroad application, notably for Germany. While it's easy to underestimate its value, a finely crafted LOR can be a cornerstone of your academic and professional assessment. It's time to debunk myths and unravel the true significance of LORs in the German academic arena.

The Spotlight on Your LOR

A Letter of Recommendation is more than just a formality. It's your narrative, unique and exclusive to you, somewhat akin to your Statement of Purpose (SOP). It's your professional or academic story, masterfully narrated by someone who recognizes your potential.
For some German universities, the LOR process is simple. You provide your recommender’s email address in the application form, and they receive a prompt to fill out a questionnaire or answer specific questions.
However, in scenarios where your recommender may not have a deep understanding of your capabilities or the time to write an elaborate LOR, they may request a draft. This draft serves as a foundation for them to build upon, ensuring they don't start from scratch.

The Preparation Phase

Before diving headfirst into drafting an LOR, a little reconnaissance can go a long way.
  • Scrutinize your chosen university course requirements, checking for any specific LOR format guidelines. Some universities even provide a template for your recommender to fill out.
  • Make note of the LOR length limit, if any. This could range from a specified word count to a page limit.
  • Ascertain the number of LORs required and who your recommender should ideally be. For instance, many German Technical Universities place a high value on recommendations from academic professors.

Equipping Your Recommender

To assist your recommender in painting a vivid and accurate picture of you, provide them with the following documents:
  • Your current resume or CV.
  • Your academic transcripts or grade reports.
  • A draft LOR, if required.

Your Roadmap to an Effective LOR

  1. Identify your recommenders: Consider 2-3 individuals who can vouch for your qualifications and potential. These could be professors whose classes you've aced, or managers with whom you've worked closely.
  1. Request politely: Once identified, reach out to them, humbly asking if they could provide a positive LOR. Sharing your academic transcripts or performance records might serve as a helpful reminder of your capabilities.
  1. Clarify the context: Arrange a meeting with your recommenders to discuss any additional information they might need. Use this opportunity to explain your motivations for pursuing a specific course or applying to a particular university.
  1. Empathize with your recommender: When drafting the LOR, maintain an appreciative tone, but be mindful of not overstepping boundaries. Include details such as the duration and context in which the recommender has known you.
  1. Add weight with statistics: Mention relevant academic achievements, like ranking among the top 10% of your class. These facts can significantly impact the admission committee's perception of you.
  1. Avoid repetition: If you need to prepare drafts for multiple recommenders, ensure each draft is distinct with minimal overlap.
  1. Honesty is the best policy: While it's natural to want to present yourself in the best light, avoid exaggeration or false statements. This can be disrespectful to your recommender and potentially damaging to your relationship.
  1. Wrap it up right: Once your recommender completes the LOR, check that it is stamped, signed, and sealed (if necessary). Express your gratitude for their effort and confirm if they're comfortable with you using their email address for online recommendations.
  1. Note your recommender’s personal email address: This could be useful for future correspondence or for universities that might need to reach out to your recommender directly.

A Few Tidbits to Remember

  • Tailor your LOR to the type of university you're applying for. For instance, German Technical Universities (TUs), known for their research focus, value LORs from academic professors, while Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen - FH) appreciate those from industry professionals owing to their practical orientation.
  • Recent recommendations carry more weight. This means LORs from your latest academic or professional engagements are often more impactful.
  • Ensure your LOR is formal and professional. Ideally, it should be written on your university’s letterhead, attested by the appropriate department, and signed by your recommender.
Navigating the world of LORs for your Masters in Germany need not be daunting. Equipped with these insights, you're now ready to secure compelling LORs that underscore your potential and amplify your chances of acceptance. Let's embark on this journey to studying in Germany, one step at a time!

Checklist for LOR Preparation

Identify Recommenders
Choose 2-3 individuals who can vouch for your abilities and potential.
Request for LOR
Write a polite request for a recommendation.
Provide Necessary Documents
Share your CV, academic transcripts, and a draft LOR if necessary.
Prepare Draft
If necessary, prepare a distinct draft for each recommender, avoiding repetition.
Review Final LOR
Ensure the final LOR is stamped, signed, and sealed, if necessary.

Email Templates for requesting LORs

This section provides email templates for requesting a letter of recommendation (LOR) from either a college professor or a project manager. Keep in mind that you should always modify the templates to fit your specific situation and relationship with the recommender.
Email Template to Request LOR from a College Professor
Subject: Request for Letter of Recommendation for Masters Studies in Germany
Dear Professor [Last Name],
I trust this email finds you in good health and high spirits.
I am planning to pursue a Masters degree in Germany and I believe that a letter of recommendation from you, based on our time spent during the [course name], would greatly enhance my application. Your insights and expertise have always been a source of inspiration for me and I feel a recommendation from you would offer an accurate account of my academic capabilities.
Given your busy schedule, I thought it might be easier if I were to prepare a draft letter of recommendation, which could serve as a starting point. You could then modify, add, or delete any content as you see fit, ensuring the letter aligns with your perception of my work and capabilities.
If this sounds acceptable to you, could you kindly confirm so I can start preparing the draft? I would be immensely grateful for your support in this endeavor. The deadline for the submission is [deadline].
Thank you very much for considering my request. I look forward to hearing from you.
Warm Regards, [Your Name]
Email Template to Request LOR from a Project Manager
Subject: Request for Letter of Recommendation for Masters Program in Germany
Dear [Manager’s Name],
I hope this message finds you well.
As I embark on my journey to pursue a Masters degree in Germany, I find myself in need of a letter of recommendation that speaks to my professional skills and experiences. Given the enriching experience I had working under your guidance at [Company Name], I believe that your recommendation would significantly bolster my application.
Understanding the demands on your time, I propose to draft a letter of recommendation, which you could then review, alter, or augment as you deem appropriate. This way, it would reflect an accurate representation of my performance and skills, without imposing too much on your schedule.
If you agree to this arrangement, could you please confirm so I can begin drafting the letter? I would be extremely grateful for your assistance in this matter. The submission deadline is [deadline].
Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to your positive response.
Best regards, [Your Name]

Improve Your LORs

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What is a Letter of Recommendation (LOR)?
A Letter of Recommendation is a document that provides an assessment of your academic or professional capabilities. It's typically written by a professor or a supervisor who can vouch for your abilities and potential, playing a crucial role in your application for further studies or employment.
2. Why are LORs important for studying in Germany?
German universities highly value LORs as they offer a comprehensive picture of your abilities, beyond your grades and test scores. They provide an insight into your character, work ethic, and suitability for the program you're applying to, making them an essential part of your application process.
3. How many LORs do I need for my application?
The number of LORs required can vary by university and program. It's best to check the specific requirements of the program you're applying to. Typically, most universities ask for two to three letters of recommendation.
4. Who should I ask for a Letter of Recommendation?
LORs should ideally be obtained from professors or supervisors who know you well and can provide an in-depth assessment of your abilities. If you're applying for a research-focused program, letters from academic professors are valued, while those applying for practical-oriented programs might benefit from letters written by industry professionals.
5. What should be included in the LOR?
The LOR should mention how long and in what capacity the recommender knows you. It should highlight your abilities, achievements, work ethics, and potential. Including specific instances or anecdotes where you demonstrated particular skills can be beneficial. It's also helpful to include a comparison statistic, such as how you stand in relation to your peers.
6. Can I draft my own LOR?
Yes, in some cases, the recommender may ask you to draft your own LOR due to time constraints or if they're unfamiliar with the process. However, remember to write honestly and respectfully about your achievements and capabilities. The recommender can then review, modify, and sign the letter.
7. How should the final LOR be presented?
The final LOR should ideally be printed on the letterhead of your university or company, signed by the recommender, and if necessary, stamped or sealed. Some universities might require a digital copy, in which case, it should be scanned and submitted as per the university's guidelines. Always check the specific requirements of each university.
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