USA University Application - References

USA University Application - References

USA Universities require 2 or 3 references and you are completely responsible for getting these references.

You need to make sure you select references that will really sell you, the references need to be teachers, counsellors, employers or individuals who know you well and support you application.  Try and get a well rounded list of references who will sell you both in the classroom and outside the classroom.


Letters of reference should highlight your:

  • ability to succeed academically at the undergraduate level
  • relevant experience, subject knowledge, personal traits (ethnics, leadership skills) or skills (writing, critical thinking) required to succeed at university
  • how your potential, skills, experience and successes compare with your peers
  • successes in and outside of the classroom
  • ability to positively contribute to university / classroom and campus life / scholarship programme
  • ability to meet the admissions criteria
  • if appropriate, the letter may fill-in any gaps or may explain discrepancies in grades
  • reasons for applying to US universities
  • research and academic interests
  • future academic and career goals
  • reasons for selecting the particular universities


References need to write in an enthusiastic tone, using very positive and descriptive language. Thus, it is important that your referees keep the audience in mind and be aware of the fact that a standard UCAS reference will not be a sufficient complement to your US university application. Guidance for  writing references .

You need to inform your references of;


  • The deadlines for submission
  • how to submit the letter (online vs. in print; whether the letter should be given to you or sent directly to the universities to which you are applying; etc.)
  • any additional paperwork they may need to complete and send with the letter


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