LOR question

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
hennenr
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LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:32 am

I have 3 letters of recommendation lined up and they are as follows:

-1 from a family friend who is an Italian author and economist whom I've spent christmas with the last 10 years and just recently started doing some work for (updating her website, facebook page and doing all her twitter). She is going to write a letter speaking to my motiviation and strong character.
-1 from a former boss who is a J.D./M.B.A. and started his own business for which I used to work at for 2 years. He is going to write a letter speaking to my work ethic, loyalty and problem solving.

Herein lies my question.
-1 from a professor who I took 3 upper division classes from and received A's in each course but herein lies the issue. He told me that he can only speak to the fact that I received A's in 3 of his classed and that he doesn't know me well enough to vouche for me on a personal level and he said I should contact another professor if they are able to say more about my character but he will write me a letter if I want one from him.

So my question is should I get a letter from a professor who can only say that I performed well in his classes but can't speak to my personal character? I only need him to say that I performed well in upper division classes because I have 2 other letters that can speak to my character.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Dany
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Re: LOR question

Postby Dany » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:22 am

You need academic LORs. That letter from a family friend will be meaningless to an adcomm. The boss one may be fine, but you've got to find an academic letter. You really don't have any other professors you can ask?

If you don't have anyone else, I think that professor will be fine. Just prepare a really professional packet of your coursework (i.e. assignments you did well on, grades, etc.) and explain to him that it will be fine if he describes your academic capabilities and not your personal characteristics.

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:26 am

I don't have any other professors. I have been out of school for a couple years now and didn't really network with professors when I was in school. Do you really think the other letter will be worthless? It is a recommendation, I understand that it has nothing to do with academics but it can give them a better idea of who I am as a person. That should count for something or maybe I'm way off base here.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:37 am

hennenr wrote:I don't have any other professors. I have been out of school for a couple years now and didn't really network with professors when I was in school. Do you really think the other letter will be worthless? It is a recommendation, I understand that it has nothing to do with academics but it can give them a better idea of who I am as a person. That should count for something or maybe I'm way off base here.


I wouldn't bother. You need an academic letter. If your professor can vouch for your academic ability *and* your character, that's cool, but your other one can't vouch for your academic ability, which is their primary concern.

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:43 am

So just so I'm clear, it is better to have a letter from a professor who says that I got A's in 3 of his classes but he has no idea who I am on a personal level then a respected, accomplished professional who can attest to my character, discipline, intelligence, work ethic and basically anything else EXCEPT for academic accomplishments. Well this basically ruins my day.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:45 am

hennenr wrote:So just so I'm clear, it is better to have a letter from a professor who says that I got A's in 3 of his classes but he has no idea who I am on a personal level then a respected, accomplished professional who can attest to my character, discipline, intelligence, work ethic and basically anything else EXCEPT for academic accomplishments. Well this basically ruins my day.


Well, actually both LORs basically fail to meet the requirements of what you want from a lec letter. Not sure which is the better one.

See the FAQ: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=131727

"Academic references are going to carry the most weight. Period. Particularly if you have a weaker part of your application, you really need to have phenomenal academic references who are willing to vouch for your performance as a student. If you’ve been out of school for a few years, I would suggest going back to your college professors and seeing if anyone would be willing to write one for you. If you think you’re going to be out of school for a while before you apply to law school, then plan ahead and get some professors to write you letters of recommendations now and place them on file with your undergraduate institution or set up an LSDAS account and let LSAC store them for you for up to five years.

I think only as a last resort -- you’ve been out of school for 10 years, none of your college professors remember you, etc. -- only then should you seek out employer recommendations that will speak to the kinds of things that an academic reference will. So, you’d want your employer to address writing and analytical skill, your intellectual curiosity, etc. Obviously, the closer they can be to the legal field, the better it will be for you. So if you’ve been a paralegal in a law office or worked for a judge, then that might be helpful, again, as a last resort."--Dean Asha from AdmissionsDean

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Dany
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Re: LOR question

Postby Dany » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:46 am

hennenr wrote:I don't have any other professors. I have been out of school for a couple years now and didn't really network with professors when I was in school. Do you really think the other letter will be worthless? It is a recommendation, I understand that it has nothing to do with academics but it can give them a better idea of who I am as a person. That should count for something or maybe I'm way off base here.

It has EVERYTHING to do with academics.

NYU wrote:...the most helpful letters to an admissions committee are from recommenders who are able to address the candidate’s ability to succeed in a rigorous academic environment, be an active, engaged participant in an academic community, and show evidence of good character and integrity. Substantive letters from persons who have taught the candidate in advanced coursework are particularly welcome.


Columbia wrote: Recommendation letters ... are most useful when written by people who have been in a position to evaluate the candidate’s work, whether academic or professional.


Chicago wrote:The LORs should be from people that truly know the applicant and has supervised their work. Also, we prefer to have at least one academic and it doesn’t have to be from a well known professor.


Yale wrote:it is important to demonstrate your academic promise and what you would be like as a student in the classroom


Of course a family friend will say nice things about you and your motivation nd strong character. Any applicant could get a friend to write that about them. You need an academic letter.

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Dany
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Re: LOR question

Postby Dany » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:48 am

hennenr wrote:So just so I'm clear, it is better to have a letter from a professor who says that I got A's in 3 of his classes but he has no idea who I am on a personal level then a respected, accomplished professional who can attest to my character, discipline, intelligence, work ethic and basically anything else EXCEPT for academic accomplishments. Well this basically ruins my day.

No offense, but you're applying to rigorous academic programs here. Why do they care if you're "disciplined"? They want to know if you can handle the academic workload, and the best way to assess that is... from someone who knows your academic work.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:49 am

eskimo wrote:It has EVERYTHING to do with academics.

Of course a family friend will say nice things about you and your motivation and strong character. Any applicant could get a friend to write that about them. You need an academic letter.


+1

Yeah, they want you to be the kind of student that professors take notice of and/or who gets to know professors due to your intellectual curiosity or interest in the academic world in general. Ideally, a professor who regards you as one of the best, or among the best, in their career.

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Hannibal
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Re: LOR question

Postby Hannibal » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:50 am

hennenr wrote:So just so I'm clear, it is better to have a letter from a professor who says that I got A's in 3 of his classes but he has no idea who I am on a personal level then a respected, accomplished professional who can attest to my character, discipline, intelligence, work ethic and basically anything else EXCEPT for academic accomplishments. Well this basically ruins my day.


Pretty much what ATL/Esk said, but I'd say that you're probably not as screwed with your letter as you think. Go to your profs and bring an example of the work that got you As. If they've written plenty of letters they'll know what to say, and if you act respectfully towards them during the LOR process that helps as well.

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:54 am

"In addition, letters that can also comment on your character and goals in addition to your intellectual strengths are beneficial as well."

"Overall, you want professionals who can write strong, detailed and enthusiastic letters in support of your application to be your recommenders."

"The best letters of recommendation come from those who know you well."

“we are looking for are letters written by people who know you fairly well. We will be more impressed by a letter from someone who knows you really well than a letter from a famous person who does not really know you at all. For example, if you worked for the Governor, but he does not know you, a letter from him will not take you very far. However, if the Governor’s assistant knows you quite well, then get him to write you a letter."


Thanks for all the responses and I guess I'll have see how everything shakes out.

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Dany
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Re: LOR question

Postby Dany » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:56 am

hennenr wrote:"In addition, letters that can also comment on your character and goals in addition to your intellectual strengths are beneficial as well."

"Overall, you want professionals who can write strong, detailed and enthusiastic letters in support of your application to be your recommenders."

"The best letters of recommendation come from those who know you well."

“we are looking for are letters written by people who know you fairly well. We will be more impressed by a letter from someone who knows you really well than a letter from a famous person who does not really know you at all. For example, if you worked for the Governor, but he does not know you, a letter from him will not take you very far. However, if the Governor’s assistant knows you quite well, then get him to write you a letter."


Thanks for all the responses and I guess I'll have see how everything shakes out.

You are missing the point completely. You'll notice that they all mention ACADEMIC letters first, and are then going on to say that those ACADEMIC references should come from people who know you well. Submit what you will, but a letter from a family friend is CLEARLY not what they are looking for.

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Hannibal
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Re: LOR question

Postby Hannibal » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:57 am

It's clear that you can't get the optimal letter since you didn't have a relationship with your professors. Dry academic ones will still beat pretty much any other letter.

1Levening2013
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Re: LOR question

Postby 1Levening2013 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:58 am

fwiw...i was 5 years out when i applied, and i had no strong ties to any professors from UG. you just need to man up, write them an email, tell them a little bit about yourself and what you're doing, attach your resume and hopefully an old paper or something that you did for their class. if you really want to impress/if its possible, go visit with them back at your college for a short meeting--this could make the difference b/w an original or generic letter

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:59 am

This is true. I don't have a close relationship with any of my old professors so I guess I'm just looking for the next best thing. Should've greased those wheels when I had the chance!

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:00 pm

1Levening2013 wrote:fwiw...i was 5 years out when i applied, and i had no strong ties to any professors from UG. you just need to man up, write them an email, tell them a little bit about yourself and what you're doing, attach your resume and hopefully an old paper or something that you did for their class. if you really want to impress/if its possible, go visit with them back at your college for a short meeting--this could make the difference b/w an original or generic letter



Cool. This is pretty much exactly what I did and although he didn't "remember" me per se he still said he would have no problem writing a letter saying I have the ability to perform well at a high academic level.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:02 pm

eskimo wrote:
hennenr wrote:"In addition, letters that can also comment on your character and goals in addition to your intellectual strengths are beneficial as well."

"Overall, you want professionals who can write strong, detailed and enthusiastic letters in support of your application to be your recommenders."

"The best letters of recommendation come from those who know you well."

“we are looking for are letters written by people who know you fairly well. We will be more impressed by a letter from someone who knows you really well than a letter from a famous person who does not really know you at all. For example, if you worked for the Governor, but he does not know you, a letter from him will not take you very far. However, if the Governor’s assistant knows you quite well, then get him to write you a letter."


Thanks for all the responses and I guess I'll have see how everything shakes out.

You are missing the point completely. You'll notice that they all mention ACADEMIC letters first, and are then going on to say that those ACADEMIC references should come from people who know you well. Submit what you will, but a letter from a family friend is CLEARLY not what they are looking for.


+1

They're cautioning against ppl who think that if they can get a famous/important person (governor, state senator, judge, etc.) to write a distant letter that it will help. Like how UChicago mentioned that the prof him/herself doesn't have to be famous--so an adjunct prof is superior to a tenured one with a big name in the field if the adjunct can go into a lot of detail. That's the point to their emphasis on "knows you well". Academic really does come first. Like Dean Asha said, the other stuff is stuff of last resort.

Just get the mediocre academic one and send your former boss in with it.

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:07 pm

Thanks for all the responses and I guess I'll have see how everything shakes out.[/quote]
You are missing the point completely. You'll notice that they all mention ACADEMIC letters first, and are then going on to say that those ACADEMIC references should come from people who know you well. Submit what you will, but a letter from a family friend is CLEARLY not what they are looking for.[/quote]

+1

They're cautioning against ppl who think that if they can get a famous/important person (governor, state senator, judge, etc.) to write a distant letter that it will help. Like how UChicago mentioned that the prof him/herself doesn't have to be famous--so an adjunct prof is superior to a tenured one with a big name in the field if the adjunct can go into a lot of detail. That's the point to their emphasis on "knows you well". Academic really does come first. Like Dean Asha said, the other stuff is stuff of last resort.

Just get the mediocre academic one and send your former boss in with it.[/quote]

But it wont be a distant letter. I currently work for this person and she can go into a lot of detail. This isn't a person that I have met once. I understand what everyone is saying and I fully plan on getting an academic letter as well as the another letter from my previous boss. My main point here is that I don't think it can hurt and in fact I think it will be beneficial for her to write me a letter as long as I have one from a professor as well.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:10 pm

hennenr wrote:
But it wont be a distant letter. I currently work for this person and she can go into a lot of detail. This isn't a person that I have met once. I understand what everyone is saying and I fully plan on getting an academic letter as well as the another letter from my previous boss. My main point here is that I don't think it can hurt and in fact I think it will be beneficial for her to write me a letter as long as I have one from a professor as well.


A lot of people caution against sending in 3 letters and I tend to agree with this sentiment(despite doing this myself, but I think I was an exception to the rule). I really wouldn't send that one in.

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:11 pm

So now the issue is sending in 3 letters. I just can't win.

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Dany
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Re: LOR question

Postby Dany » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:16 pm

hennenr wrote:So now the issue is sending in 3 letters. I just can't win.

No, you can win. You're just not listening. A letter from a family friend IS NOT TCR. You have a professor with whom you took THREE classes and received all As. Make an appointment with him, have a professional meeting, and he will write you what you need.

ALSO, because it's driving me crazy, ATL was NOT saying your letter from your friend would be distant. She was clarifying what the adcomms were actually talking about when you took their quotes out of context.

And I hope I'm not seeming harsh, I just really would like to be helpful. :D I have read plenty of recommendations, and the ones that say "This is a wonderful person" look like a total joke next to ones that can describe SUBSTANTIVE accomplishments in the classroom.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:18 pm

eskimo wrote:
hennenr wrote:So now the issue is sending in 3 letters. I just can't win.

No, you can win. You're just not listening. A letter from a family friend IS NOT TCR. You have a professor with whom you took THREE classes and received all As. Make an appointment with him, have a professional meeting, and he will write you what you need.

ALSO, because it's driving me crazy, ATL was NOT saying your letter from your friend would be distant. She was clarifying what the adcomms were actually talking about when you took their quotes out of context.

And I hope I'm not seeming harsh, I just really would like to be helpful. :D I have read plenty of recommendations, and the ones that say "This is a wonderful person" look like a total joke next to ones that can describe SUBSTANTIVE accomplishments in the classroom.


Eskimo knows her stuff. Also, thanks Eski.

You can't achieve the ideal situation, yes, but just get that letter from your prof and you're set.

hennenr
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Re: LOR question

Postby hennenr » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:31 pm

I don't see how a letter from my boss that says I'm a good employee and highlights why I am a good employee would hurt me. The fact that she is a family friend is irrelevant.

I have told my professor that I need a letter that will attest to the fact that I can acheive high marks in an advanced academic setting and he is willing to say exactly that. Don't worry about being harsh. This is the law school application process not tiddlywinks! I'm just happy to have some people to bounce questions off of.

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Dany
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Re: LOR question

Postby Dany » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:32 pm

"updating her website, facebook page and doing all her twitter" is not the kind of work I think adcomms will be impressed by.

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acrossthelake
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Re: LOR question

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:33 pm

hennenr wrote:I don't see how a letter from my boss that says I'm a good employee and highlights why I am a good employee would hurt me. The fact that she is a family friend is irrelevant.

I have told my professor that I need a letter that will attest to the fact that I can acheive high marks in an advanced academic setting and he is willing to say exactly that. Don't worry about being harsh. This is the law school application process not tiddlywinks! I'm just happy to have some people to bounce questions off of.


Updating someone's website, fb page, and twitter isn't really considered substantive "work". Use the former boss you worked with for 2 years as your second. Use your prof as your first. Nix the family friend.


ETA: Esk, we both said that at the same time. Haha win. Did I ever mention that you remind me of me a little?




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