Q&A: What Does A Strong Letter Of Recommendation Include?

Hi Sharon,

Thanks a lot for that last tip, it did eventually help me get in. Unfortunately i had to postpone my graduate studies due to a family crisis.

I’m applying again this year, and was wondering – could you please tell me what a strong recommendation letter includes? 

Many thanks in advance!



Date: 8/25/11


Hello again, NK!

I’m so glad that you were accepted to veterinary school, but saddened to hear of your family crisis. I hope everything works out and I am hopeful that you will gain acceptance once again this year!

What constitutes a strong letter of recommendation? That’s a tricky question as there aren’t guidelines set out for these things like they are for other formal writing, such as cover letters. I will outline a few things that I think would help your recommendation glow.

  • Shows familiarity — the person must show that they know you, not simply for a long time, but more importantly their relationship with you is not merely superficial. This will make the letter credible when the person recommending you describes you.
  • Shows your character — you want your best attributes to shine — beyond simply stating that you are intelligent, a good problem-solver, and generous, have your letter of recommendation show that through examples. Believe me, adjectives are easy to forget — stories and examples are not!
  • Conveys your genuine interest in the field of veterinary medicine. Beyond that, shows that you are aware of what the field entails and the recommender is confident that you are well-prepared for it.
  • It should ultimately state that the person gives you their highest recommendation for whatever you are applying for and state with confidence that you will be excellent and thrive in your new environment.

I cannot stress how much stories that exemplify your best qualities are crucial to a glowing letter; hopefully you’ve been faced with some obstacles and have made a lasting positive impression with people you’ve worked with!

Good luck!

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