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Online LORs | What Questions to Expect and How to Prepare

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I will be applying in Fall, 2015. PhD in Computer Science.


Now, the way it stands, my humble assistant professors from a non-English speaking country, have never written LORs before. They are asking me about what to expect.


I would enlighten them, except, I don't know myself.


They want to know:


  • What to expect? Multiple choice questions about me? Yes/No questions? Are they expected to write paragraphs describing me?
  • In case a paragraph describing me is required, do they need to be ready with a draft? If yes, how long? 
  • Other than mentioning that I excelled in classes and labs they taught, is there anything else they need to mention to improve my chances?
  • Can they copy-paste the same paragraphs about me for LORs to different universities?


Could those of you with LOR experience help me in answering these questions?


Also, is there any way I can see some sample online LORs of universities in the US?





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Ok, well first let me say that I have only ever seen a completed LOR once, and it was one for applying to an internship, so it was probably not quite the same. I can tell you that the writer (who was my academic advisor and professor for two courses) mentioned who he was, what his relationship to me was, mentioned my grades with him. He also talked about my rank in his classes (I was consistently one of his top students) and my extracurricular activities, like tutoring and working full-time. He also talked about my work ethic and creativity, as well as what courses I took that would qualify me for the position. Coincidentally, I got that internship.

He also wrote me letters for grad school, but since I waived my right to see them, I'll never know exactly what he put. By the time I applied to grad school, I had started doing research and he was my mentor for the project, so I imagine he talked about my research and if he thought my performance conducting the research meant I could handle research at the graduate level. Another professor who wrote me letters probably talked a lot about my performance in the field, since I worked on several field projects with him. He probably also talked about the same kinds of things as the first professor did in his letter for my internship.

I'm not sure what other help I can offer, since I've never written a LOR myself. This link has some useful information and some examples:


Something I can add, though. I have seen a few LOR forms at some schools that have a few questions that the writer must rank you compared to other students, and then there is a place where the writer can add his or her comments in paragraph form. I think for pretty much all LOR, the writer should have a draft of the letter prepared.

And yes, a writer can use the same letter content for multiple schools.

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