Letters of Recommendation

Often you will be asked to provide letters of recommendation when applying for stipends or to a university abroad. These recommendations (attester) are an important part of the application. It tells those you are applying to more about you than the level of academic performance indicated by your transcript. These recommendations may come from a variety of sources. Typically it is advisable to have at least one from a professor at the university and one from a previous employer.

I really don't know any professors well. What should I do?

You may not have had much contact with professors at the time you are applying for the stipend/admission. You might hesitate to ask a professor your hardly know to write you a recommendation and the professor might hesitate to agree to write a recommendation since they don’t really know you very well.

The following suggestion from Stanford University, USA, may provide a solution to this dilemma. Basically they suggest that you provide the person you are asking to write the recommendation with information that will allow them to write a recommendation for you and then meet with the professor to discuss your background, achievements and goals. In this way the person you are asking may be more willing/able to write you a recommendation.

The information below may be of use to the person you are asking to write the recommendation:

Reference: Teaching at Stanford Handbook: http://ctl.stanford.edu/handbook.pdf

“Here are a few points to remember when writing a recommendation:

Be sure to keep a copy of the letter for your files. Employers may call to clarify information, the same student may come back to ask for another letter, or it may help you get started when you have to do one for somebody else. Also ask the student to let you know how he or she did. Although the results will not be a clear indication of whether your letter helped, good news will keep up your motivation; the student will also appreciate your interest.

Writing letters of recommendation can be time consuming, but with practice you will soon develop your style and system. Remember too that to be where you are, others obviously went to the same trouble for you; this is your chance to reciprocate.”

I have a recommendation in Norwegian and it has to be in English, what should I do?

You could have it translated, but this will cost too much. The fastest/easiest (for all involved) thing to do is contact the person who wrote the recommendation, explain the situation and suggest that you could translate the recommendation, send the Norwegian original and the translation over to her/him and then they could sign it and return it to you.

In conclusion:
These are just suggestions. You may have ideas of your own. Remember, you may need a letter of recommendation at any time during your academic and future career. When you get one, put it in a safe spot and keep it in good condition. A looseleaf (ringperm) with the recommendations stored in plastic covers is one way to go.

This information is provided by: NTNU - International Office, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway; Phone: +47 73 59 5700: Fax: +47 73 59 5210

Editor: head of section, Contact address: international"at"adm.ntnu.no, Updated: 23 aug 2007