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I'm applying to PhD admissions to the US. My undergraduate college is in India (non-IIT/NIT/BITS), where professors often ask students to draft their own recommendation letters. How much weight, if any, do these letters carry? Are they even read by admissions committee members?

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    If part of your concern is that the students are asked to draft their own recommendation letters, I have seen this occur (for PhD applications) from professors at top international universities (e.g. top 100 in the world). I believe the motivation is that the students know what they want to emphasis in their applications (and awards they have won) then they can make sure they are happy to attach their name to the claims (or edit it into their personal style). Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 10:58
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    First, we don't usually know if the student wrote the letter or not. We read them, but many of them are not helpful: see academia.stackexchange.com/q/45513/19607
    – Kimball
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 11:41

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Of course, the letters will be read and considered. The university ranking as well as how well known the professor is in his field has its weight, but that doesn't mean only the best are considered. The graduate committees typically consider the applications as a whole including the grades, research/work experience, standardized tests, LoRs, SOP, and so on.

Regarding writing your own letter, that's quite common. Professors do as it gives them a great starting point to edit and write a compelling letter without spending too much of their time. It also allows students to highlight different strengths from their letters.

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