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What does Universities look for in your LOR?

Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is one of the crucial factors which Universities consider while granting admissions to an applicant. It is not a sole decider but has a great value. Applications are evaluated under two categories: the hard factors or the quantitative elements (like GPA, grades, aptitude test scores, etc.) and the soft factors or the qualitative elements (like essays, statement of purpose, letter of recommendation, etc.).

Different universities have different requirements on number of LOR to be submitted by the applicant. Generally, 2-3 LORs are asked for, which again depends on the requirement of the University and the program you are applying for, what kind of recommendations and from whom you need to collect it. Mostly, for undergraduate programs LOR from your academic professors is needed, but if you are applying for graduate and level above that, LOR from both academic professor and employer is required.

Now, let’s see what universities look for in your LOR.

Is your LOR up to the set standard of the university?

Universities either have online recommendation system or the traditional LOR. If it is the online system then your recommender will be sent a link in which s/he will answer the questions asked accordingly. Else, if it is the traditional LOR system, then the LOR is to be drafted following the set format of word limits, things to be covered, the introduction-content-conclusion, etc.

Is the content of your LOR appropriate enough to consider your application?

While evaluating the LOR, the words and phrases written are actually evaluated since this is one of the vital documents to consider an application. Whether the content is generic or specific is judged. A good LOR must include specific examples and situations where the recommender must have interacted/worked closely with the applicant. Only generic words praising the character/activity of an applicant won’t add any value.

Is your LOR authentic?

The online system nullifies this question to an extent. But if the LOR is still sent via e-mail or a hard copy is used, then authenticity of the LOR is checked. Firstly, whether the person making the recommendation authentic or not is verified. Whether the signature, e-mail id used is authentic or not is also checked. Therefore, it is better not to do any hanky-panky that will close the doors for your application.

Is it actually a recommendation or just a fill in the blanks in a set template?

Universities also tend to check whether a particular recommendation is made based on personal experiences of the recommender and the applicant or just a simple template is being used. It is always impressive to include examples of how the applicant was involved in a particular situation/project and what achievements could s/he make. The universities also check if your LOR matches with others’ LOR (if from the same recommender) so the recommender must not in any case make a set template and provide LOR to anyone.

About the Recommender and your relation with him/her.

Who is the person writing your recommendation, what is his/her calibre does really matter while your LOR is being evaluated. Therefore, the LOR must necessarily include a good introduction of the recommender that should include the current position, experiences, awards and achievements in brief, how many LORs does s/he have drafted so far, etc.

Factors other than the content of the LOR.

Since almost all the Universities these days have online application process, they do have certain other questions and rating systems besides/instead of uploading the LOR. Therefore, whenever you think of the LOR, these factors are to be kept in mind too. The Recommender will be asked certain questions to rate you in numbers or defining statements like ‘strongly recommended or recommend or average or not to be considered’ and so on.

Last but very important point to be taken care of is that you should choose your recommender very wisely. It should be a person who knows you very well. You can always help the recommender by sharing your current interests and thoughts, your CV, certificates of your awards and achievements which will serve as a very good reference points. But if you tend to choose someone who does not know you properly may not be able to write a compelling LOR for you.

While choosing the recommender, you must always be thoughtful enough who would add value to your application process to get into a particular program. For example, if you are applying for engineering degree it is better to take recommendation from your Physics/Science professor instead of English professor. In case of LOR from employer, it is better to choose your supervisor from a job which is related to the subject area of the program you have chose rather than choosing someone with whom you worked as a receptionist.

Here at Education First, we keep organising workshops and seminars with experienced professionals who can guide you with your LOR from time-to-time. Don’t miss to contact us and grab the opportunity!

Should you go abroad and get a foreign degree?

Many students from Nepal decide to leave the soothing environs of their home and decide to venture across thousands of miles to go study abroad every year. Traditionally speaking, countries like the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand are the most popular destinations for students from Nepal as universities and colleges use English as an instructional medium in these countries. Some other favored countries like France, Germany, China, the Netherlands etc., are also now relatively popular amongst Nepalese students looking to go abroad to study, though the majority of them would still prefer going to the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The lure of “Dollar Salary” after completion of academic pursuits seemed to be the strongest pull for students going abroad earlier. Though it still is true for a lot of students even today, there has been an emerging trend in recent times of Nepalese students wishing to come back to Nepal and serve their motherland after completion of studies abroad. A steadily growing Nepalese economy and its further growth potential that is bound to open up many more avenues of jobs creation and career opportunities in the near future seems to be driving this trend. But, the allure of a foreign education is still robust. So, let us now enumerate some dominant reasons why you should consider going abroad and getting that much coveted foreign degree:


Capacity and Quality:

It was just the other day that I met a student who had just finished her 12th from NEB and scored 91%, from a very reputable high school in the Kathmandu valley. Her hopes of securing admission to the prestigious St. Xavier’s College in Kathmandu were dashed when she found out that 91% did not make the cut this year for the college to grant her admission. As discouraging as that may sound, she’d been smart enough to apply to the US. Her due diligence paid off. She got admitted to NYU and Columbia University. Absolutely amazing! Can you guess where she’s headed? NYU, an Ivy League institution! She has her parents to thank, as they are capable and willing to bear the initial costs, bearing in mind the possibility of gaining scholarship/assistantship once one is done with a semester or so, provided one maintains good grades.

The problem with the Higher Education establishment in our country is that the allotted seats at reputed universities and colleges is very limited. What it means is that for someone like the girl I mentioned earlier, getting reasonably high grades is no guarantee to get admitted into the best institutions in the country. Though we have taken considerable strides in our schooling system, the same is not true for higher education, especially when one considers Liberal Arts. The quality of education offered by Government universities and colleges has been found to be lacking in many aspects. A perfunctory talk with some students at the premier Tribhuwan University revealed various problems related to faculty, non-regular running of classes, politicization of education etc. They seemed to suggest that education was not being prioritized enough in the country.

Given the scenario, it is not difficult then to see that more and more students want to go study at places like Brown, Rutgers, Stanford (the list is quite long!) in the US, which are some of the best in the world. They offer the best of infrastructure needed for a student to excel academically and the research-orientation of these programs promise the brightest of future for aspiring candidates.


International Recognition:

A degree earned abroad from a renowned university or college is a safeguard against any economic downturn in the future as it enhances the credentials of anyone having it and one can expect to get the best of career prospects, irrespective of country or company domain. An international degree is a collective seal of approval right at the outset.


Cutting-edge curriculum and research:

Educational institutions in countries like the US and the UK are premiers in top-of-the-line research and innovation that aim to positively impact our world. Equipped with the best human talent and research infrastructure, these universities and colleges continuously upgrade their curriculum to keep abreast with changes happening in our economies and societies, especially with regard to technology, to make you future-ready.

Liberal Education:

Unlike in Nepal, universities in the west afford the freedom to students (who have a wide variety of interest) to choose their courses so as to gain a holistic knowledge base. A student of mechanical engineering has the option of choosing core engineering courses, which could be tagged with Financial Economics to better understand how finances could impact the prospects of the industry the student intends to work in and also learn French to improve his/her language skill-set. Your education, you decide what’s best for you. What more could one ask for?

Learning in a diverse environment:

Universities in countries like the US and the UK, attract students from all over the globe. You could be sharing an apartment with an American, attending classes with a Japanese and participating in sports activities with somebody from Malawi. The universe is the limit! Diverse backgrounds bring diverse perspectives to the table, that feeds into a wider and holistic understanding of issues.

Faculty and Research & Teaching Assistantships:

The educational institutions abroad attract the best faculty in terms of teaching & research experience and are stalwarts in their field of study. The focus is on quality. A prolific student has every chance to get an opportunity to work with them (paid, of course), provided you do well on the courses you are taking and your research interest align with that of the Professor.

Access to Global Placements:


Once armed with a foreign degree from an institution of repute, companies all over the world would be willing to have you onboard. Instances like Indra Nooyi from India heading Pepsi and Iranian-American CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi prove that the world could be your oyster if you choose so. Choose wise, choose smart! You could be next in line.


What’s better? A One-year or a Two-year MBA

Look for your choices, pick the best one, and then go with it.’ - Pat Riley


Once you’ve made up your mind to do an MBA, you’ll find yourself perplexed with a variety of options related to country and college selection. Besides, you’ll find yourself contemplating whether to opt for a One-year or a Two-year MBA program. Here, we aim to provide you the toolset required to make an informed decision.

One of the pertinent concern most applicants face regarding this decision is assessing the quality of education on offer. Does a One-year MBA offer the same quality of education as opposed to a Two-year program? The short and sweet answer to that quandary is a resounding Yes! Duration is by no means a yardstick to be used while evaluating quality.

You must then be thinking, what possibly could be the purpose of a Two-year program when students already have the possibility to acquire similar knowledge and information through a One-year program? The answer to that is a bit complex. What we need to understand is that the duration of an MBA program is country and individual requirement specific.

Let’s see if we can make it simpler for you! While educational institutes in countries such as the US have a definite orientation towards a Two-year MBA program, MBA schools in European countries (except schools such as HEC, Manchester, and LBS) prefer a 1-1.5-year duration. In Nepal, most Executive MBA programs have a one-year term. Singapore offers students a 16-month program. Canada provides options for both, One and Two-year MBA programs. The vast number of permutations and combinations possible makes choosing between one or the other an overwhelming process.

One other factor (possibly a defining one) that has a bearing on the type of an MBA program on offer is a students’ individual requirement. While some prospective MBA applicants look at further harnessing their managerial knowledge base, others aim for a complete functional change. Business schools offer programs of variable time durations to serve the needs of as many students as possible.

Let’s now have a look at some of the crucial distinctions between the two programs:

One-year MBA

Two-year MBA

Does not offer an internship and hence, limits networking opportunities.

Offers internship, networking and career building opportunities.

Suitable for students with over 5-10 years’ work experience. Eligibility is also dependent on an exceptional GMAT score.

Suitable for students with 5 or fewer years of work experience. Eligibility is not solely determined by GMAT scores.

Has pre-requisite requirements such as quantitative knowledge (Math or Economics) and managerial experience. Also suitable for applicants who have completed an MBA program albeit from a less recognized university (as per international standards).

Applicants can have an educational background in any subject like the Arts, Media, Technical or Military. Students are not expected to have a prior managerial experience either.

Unsuitable for complete functional change.

Preferred program for students aiming for a radical change in their industry and function.

Faster Returns on Investment.

Slower Returns on Investment.

Fewer options for B-school selection.

Relatively higher number of B-schools offer a Two-year program.

Immense pressure that requires significant time commitment daily.

Students have the chance of exploring the program, their goals, and other opportunities.

Cost is significantly lower.

Cost is significantly higher considering the additional year of living expense, tuition fees, and lost earning opportunities.

Suitable for senior executives who are aiming for sponsorship from their current employer and entrepreneurs.

Suitable for applicants who are comfortable returning to the professional world after a two-year hiatus.

Ultimately, the choice of opting between a One-year or a Two-year MBA program depends on individual preferences. We at Education First, can make the process of arriving at that decision relatively simpler by aligning you with our consultation experts who have years of experience in providing correct guidance to thousands of students. If you find yourself in a similar dilemma, get in touch with our International Education experts right away by calling us at 01-4247067 or 01-4262513!

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