Dear Mentor:

India is far away: where can I get letters of recommendation?

I am here in US on an H4 visa. As I have sufficient work experience as a Software Engineer, I have been trying for few jobs. But now I decided to do an MS. My problem is the letters of recommendations required by the university, other than that I am prepared with almost all other documents. I am here and people who can write letters of recommendations for me are in India. Can u tell me how I can get recommendation letters here and from whom?

Looking for Letters, New York, USA

Dear Looking for Letters:

Let us understand the purpose of the letters or recommendations that universities require as a part of the admissions process. These letters provide information and insights - beyond what can be learned from your past academic performance and standardized entrance exam scores - into your prospects of being successful in a particular program of studies. Thus, these letters must come from only those people who can comment on your skills, abilities, and future prospects of success in a meaningful way. You should not, although you can, ask just anyone - like your neighbor or friend or someone who does not even know you - to write these letters for you. Your recommenders must have been either your professors or your professional colleagues or superiors. So, if they all happen to be India, then you have to contact them to help you out in your endeavor.

Your situation can be a challenge, but we are not sure that it is as serious a challenge as you make it sound. Communication technology -- phone, fax, and email -- greatly dimishes the distance between the US and India. We feel that you should be able to effectively communicate with the proper individuals. Otherwise, you may have to ask your family and friends back in India to help you out.

Think of letters of recommendation as another opportunity for you to make your candidacy stronger. Yes, it requires effor,t but getting admitted to a good school is worth the trouble. These letters are not just some bureaucratic requirement for which you have to check off a box for the completion of your application. They really do matter in decision-making for admissions and financial aid. You can submit the letters from anyone, and the university would not care. But you should care, because it is your candidacy that should be important to you.

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