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How to ask for a recommendation letter to study in Europe

Are you preparing the documentation to study in Europe and you need a recommendation letter? In some cases, a study program can be very competitive and a recommendation letter can be one of the factors an institution evaluate when considering your application. Below you will find the three steps to ask for recommendation letters when deciding to study abroad in Europe:

1 To whom will you be asking for a recommendation letter?

You should think very well to whom you will be asking for your recommendation letter for it to be valuable:

  • Does the recommender know you? Maybe you’ve been attending his/her lectures or he/she has been reviewing your lab projects. If so, it might be easier for him/her to write a recommendation letter for you. However, this may not always be the case. You may also find teachers or professors that will be pleased to write a recommendation letter on your behalf just because they feel somehow related to what you would like to do.
  • What’s the recommender position? A recommendation letter from an important authority within your home institution will be most valuable in the majority of cases.
  • Does the recommender have any contact with the institution you will be applying for? A recommendation letter from a person that is already known by your host institution might be more convincing than a recommendation letter that comes from an unknown person.

2Once you have identified the person who will write the recommendation letter on your behalf, it’s time to arrange a meeting with him/her.

You can start by sending him/her a short email where you explain who you are, why you are writing and what your plans are. We would also recommend you send your email from your institution account as it will prevent your recommender from considering your message as a spam.
Don’t forget to always be kind and thank your recommender for any message he/she sends you with simple sentences like ”Thank you for taking the time to consider my request”. It’s nice to be nice!

3On the day of your meeting, explain your accomplishments at your current institution and further describe your motivations and plans.

Keep it short as you will be showing you value your recommender’s time. The recommender will write the letter based on your explanations. However, it might also happen that the recommender asks the student to write the recommendation letter for him/her to simply review it and sign it.

Along with your recommendation letter, you should take care of writing a compelling CV. In the article The Europass CV: how to write your CV and have your qualifications understood throughout Europe, you will find lots of information on how to write your CV for studies in Europe and even create yours online.

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