Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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kazu

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Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby kazu » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:39 am

I emailed a couple of professors who I thought would write me a good LOR. One of them emailed back to say that he would be happy to do so since I did do well, but "not to boast too much regarding your own achievements particularly when emailing people who know you anyway".

Honestly, all I said was that I enjoyed the class, I thought I showed "a wide range of analytical and communicative capabilities", and I thought I showed "a strong initiative to learn & lead discussion in the class". And I mentioned what topics I wrote papers on / gave presentations on.

Is this a bad sign? Maybe it's because the professor isn't American? He's from a culture which is known to appreciate understatement... but I don't want him to understate me on my LOR :(

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applepiecrust

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby applepiecrust » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:46 am

kazu wrote:
Honestly, all I said was...I thought I showed "a wide range of analytical and communicative capabilities", and I thought I showed "a strong initiative to learn & lead discussion in the class"



Maybe it's because I'm also not American, but your mentioning that you showed "a wide range of analytical and communicative capabilities" and showed "a strong initiative to learn and lead discussion in class" comes across as self-aggrandizing.

Is it customary practice to say such things about yourself when requesting LoRs? One would think your professor/TA/employer should be the one to make the assessment about you, not you.

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kazu

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby kazu » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:58 am

I wasn't sure what the norm was on approaching them through email, but I found this: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 11&t=13176 (scroll down to second from the bottom post). I used the "template" there but obviously edited it quite a bit to fit me.

applepiecrust, from your perspective what do you think? My understanding is that the norm for most LORs written by American profs are... extravagant (every single student is the "best" at whatever). Obviously this is what mine will be judged against as well. Maybe I should just ask someone else?

The frustrating thing is I feel like this prof is in the best position to vouch for my strengths............but..............

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby drdolittle » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:11 am

If you were applying to LS in the culture of this guy, his understatement in a LOR might really help you but for the US, I'd find another reference. Even if your self characterizations are a bit exaggerated, though they don't seem too over the top to me, I don't think they warrant a mini lesson from this guy since it's obvious you're just trying to set the tone for an effective letter that would complement your overall application. Since he doesn't seem to get this, I would not ask him for a letter. Or maybe he's trying to tell you that he doesn't think of you so highly?

BTW, I understand where he's coming from in principle and it's not necessarily a bad thing to tone down praise and leave some room to acknowledge truly exceptional performance, but I'm not sure LS admissions look at LORs in such a nuanced way so anything less than super positive commentary might be viewed negatively.
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paratactical

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby paratactical » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:13 am

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Last edited by paratactical on Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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applepiecrust

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby applepiecrust » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:16 am

kazu wrote:I wasn't sure what the norm was on approaching them through email, but I found this: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=13176 (scroll down to second from the bottom post). I used the "template" there but obviously edited it quite a bit to fit me.

applepiecrust, from your perspective what do you think? My understanding is that the norm for most LORs written by American profs are... extravagant (every single student is the "best" at whatever). Obviously this is what mine will be judged against as well. Maybe I should just ask someone else?

The frustrating thing is I feel like this prof is in the best position to vouch for my strengths............but..............


I had trouble with this for my LoRs for undergrad (coming from a non-American high school): no one had any clue how to write them! In this case, I would just suggest that you make your expectations from the LoRs clear to the professor. In all likelihood, if he teaches at an American university, he would have experience writing letters of recommendation. A piece of advice my older friends gave me was to ask directly if the recommenders would be able to write a good/strong letter of recommendation.

Good luck!

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kazu

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby kazu » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:26 am

drdolittle wrote:I'm not sure LS admissions look at LORs in such a nuanced way so anything less than super positive commentary might be viewed negatively.

This is what I'm worried about as well.
applepiecrust wrote:if he teaches at an American university, he would have experience writing letters of recommendation.

He doesn't... :(

Thanks everyone for the advice. Right now I'm really regretting not having focused more on developing relationships with multiple professors.

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MURPH

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby MURPH » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:36 am

You can ask him to write the LOR but try to prep him a little first. Get a copy of Anne Ivey's or Richard Mountauk's book. Both have an LOR guide. Explain to him that it has to be over the top. You have to be one of the best students he ever met. Many profs will let you see the LOR even if you sign the waiver. Definately take a look.
Even if you are not sure, have him write it anyway. He can submit it to LSAC and if you are not confident then just don't add his LOR to your application. Get two others who are prone to hyperbole to write for you. His can be a third for those rare schools that require 3.

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby drdolittle » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:37 am

kazu wrote:Right now I'm really regretting not having focused more on developing relationships with multiple professors.


But many on TLS are convinced LORs are basically meaningless. It probably depends on where you're applying to and your numbers, but as far as I've seen, LORs might come into serious play only after your numbers and personal statement are considered, if at all. I wouldn't fret about your LORs too much.

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kazu

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby kazu » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:55 am

MURPH wrote:You can ask him to write the LOR but try to prep him a little first. Get a copy of Anne Ivey's or Richard Mountauk's book. Both have an LOR guide. Explain to him that it has to be over the top. You have to be one of the best students he ever met. Many profs will let you see the LOR even if you sign the waiver. Definately take a look.
Even if you are not sure, have him write it anyway. He can submit it to LSAC and if you are not confident then just don't add his LOR to your application. Get two others who are prone to hyperbole to write for you. His can be a third for those rare schools that require 3.

Thanks for the solid advice. The thing is I'm having trouble right now finding even 2 who are prone to hyperbole & are willing to write the LORs themselves. I'll definitely try to prep him first.

Would it be better to say "yes" to the ones that said "I'll be happy to support you but I'm really busy right now, however if you write one for me I'll definitely sign my name on it"?

drdolittle wrote:But many on TLS are convinced LORs are basically meaningless. It probably depends on where you're applying to and your numbers, but as far as I've seen, LORs might come into serious play only after your numbers and personal statement are considered, if at all. I wouldn't fret about your LORs too much.

Yeah that's probably true but I don't want my LOR to be a negative in any way, and since the norm is over-the-top... Plus, there's nothing I can really do about my LSAT or GPA at this point.

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby ec2xs » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:00 am

Kazu,LOR are overrated as has been suggested. Go ahead and use it. I doubt it will say anything derogatory to the point that it will change your chances of acceptance. What you told him did sound arrogant, but judging from this thread that was more a matter of you not being comfortable enough to just ask them directly. I think you're in the clear and shouldn't worry about it, but approach future people directly to avoid this type of crap.

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PLATONiC

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby PLATONiC » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:04 am

Don't ask him for an LOR.

I have three people that I know on a very, very personal level. One is a full-professor, one is a graduate assistant whom I took two philosophy courses with, and another one is my employer. I literally asked two of them so far "Would you be able to write me an excellent LOR????" And they said "Yes!"

You need to be absolutely confident about the person, and, as for me, I don't mind making some of my relationships "awkward" when it comes to important things like this. LORs don't matter THAT much, but what if that person screws you, you know? Then it could actually matter if you have borderline numbers that are being compared with another candidate with the exact same numbers. Just my $0.20.

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ec2xs

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby ec2xs » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:10 am

I genuinely feel that the OP performed well in class, but the teacher was warning him/her of sounding to boastful in future endeavors. It seemed like a quick note that such comments will hold OP back in the future. I think a quick apology would suffice. I didn't get the impression the the LOR would be centralizing around this "boastful" concept at all, and I'm not sure why people are rushing to that judgment.

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby PLATONiC » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:13 am

ec2xs wrote:I genuinely feel that the OP performed well in class, but the teacher was warning him/her of sounding to boastful in future endeavors. It seemed like a quick note that such comments will hold OP back in the future. I think a quick apology would suffice. I didn't get the impression the the LOR would be centralizing around this "boastful" concept at all, and I'm not sure why people are rushing to that judgment.


I think these people are merely pointing out the possibility of the person backstabbing OP. Technically, I'd write a shitty recommendation if I disliked something the recommendee did.

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kazu

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby kazu » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:35 am

ec2xs, thanks. I approached them by email because it's only been a couple of weeks since I started a new job, and I didn't want to take multiple days/afternoons off. I figured that if they accepted I could meet them in person then, give them the LSAC form, my transcript etc., talk about my goals and whatnot (hopefully all on the same day). However, if I knew this would happen I would have definitely just asked them in person, new job or not.

Platonic, unfortunately I don't have relationships with professors of that type. If I did, I would have asked them. :(

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Haribo

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby Haribo » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:59 am

--LinkRemoved--

It sounds like you aren't likely to get an amazing LOR from any professor - you just don't want to get sabotaged. I would meet with the professor in person, apologize, perhaps explain that LORs for professional graduate programs in the US tend to be a bit effusive but you may have went overboard, and try and scope it out if he's still willing to write you a decent letter. Assuming he still is, go for it. You don't need to hit a home run on the LOR, and you won't since you don't have any great connections already. You just want him to write a letter that doesn't suck.

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kazu

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby kazu » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:23 am

Haribo wrote:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/admissions/2007/10/17/don%E2%80%99t-get-wreck-ommended/

It sounds like you aren't likely to get an amazing LOR from any professor - you just don't want to get sabotaged. I would meet with the professor in person, apologize, perhaps explain that LORs for professional graduate programs in the US tend to be a bit effusive but you may have went overboard, and try and scope it out if he's still willing to write you a decent letter. Assuming he still is, go for it. You don't need to hit a home run on the LOR, and you won't since you don't have any great connections already. You just want him to write a letter that doesn't suck.

Hi! Thanks for replying - I got a lot of useful information from your posts on your PS etc.
You're probably right. I actually wasn't worried about getting sabotaged before this - even though I don't have really close personal relationships with any professors, I only contacted the ones who I was fairly certain would remember me and write me a decent LOR. And then this hapened :(

I've apologized by email, and have set up an appointment to see him. Thanks everyone again for your opinions and advice.

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applepiecrust

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Re: Should I not get an LOR from this guy?

Postby applepiecrust » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:31 am

Haribo wrote:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/admissions/2007/10/17/don%E2%80%99t-get-wreck-ommended/


Ah, sounds like my grad school friends are right on track with the advice on recommendations: straight up asking if they can write a good one. That's something that's difficult for me to do, but I'll do it.



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