Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
NYC1010
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Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:15 pm

About me: I am currently a senior at a T10 Liberal Arts College. Have around a 3.5 GPA, took the LSAT last week and likely scored 168-172 range. I'm a New Yorker and would be perfectly content attending Fordham, as Columbia and NYU are likely out of my range.

My issue: I am debating whether I should approach a certain history professor regarding a recommendation. I took 4 courses with this professor over the course of my Freshman and Sophomore years. I plan on taking a course with her in the Spring. I attained an A- in an intro course with her, 2 A-s in 200 level courses with her, but a flat B in a seminar with her (which i took my sophomore year). At the time I had a bunch of personal issues going on that contributed to my poor performance, in addition to being a bit over my head with the course's workload. Since then the professor and I have been in touch sparingly. I went abroad for my Junior year and have not seen her since i've been back. I was going to be a history major, but have since switched over to Polisci.

Should i seek a recommendation from this professor? I was thinking i could email her, reconcile in a sense, and explain my poor performance in the seminar. I just wonder if it is worth it because my B in her seminar really sucks---I wish she could just write the recommendation as if she had never taught that course.

Anyway, any advice would be greatly appreciated. If you think i should pursue her, advice on approaching her would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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St.Remy
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby St.Remy » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:51 pm

Asking can't hurt, and when you sit down to talk with her about a recommendation you will be able to a) explain yourself a bit and b) gauge how enthusiastic she is about writing a letter. I think that a letter of recommendation from someone whose class you didn't ace could be more valuable than an LOR from someone's class that you did ace so long as the recommendation is a good one- it show that even in one of your weaker classes you did well in a way. I did something similar for college applications (where LORs can actually matter) and it worked out well for me.

Obviously if your professor doesn't seem enthusiastic then find someone else.

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:27 pm

Appreciate the insight---if others have opinions, would still love to hear more feedback.

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AnthonyNicator
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby AnthonyNicator » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:58 pm

poor performance? you think a B in ONE CLASS your SOPHOMORE year qualifies as poor performance? well once you get that overachiever stick out of your ass, you should probably ask her. I think what will make or break you was the time you put in at office hours or engaging your professors outside of the classroom. If you didnt do either, I wouldn't waste your time. A mediocre letter of rec is worse than none at all, you want people who want to recommend you not those who would half ass the job.

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SullaFelix
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby SullaFelix » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:57 am

AnthonyNicator wrote:poor performance? you think a B in ONE CLASS your SOPHOMORE year qualifies as poor performance? well once you get that overachiever stick out of your ass, you should probably ask her. I think what will make or break you was the time you put in at office hours or engaging your professors outside of the classroom. If you didnt do either, I wouldn't waste your time. A mediocre letter of rec is worse than none at all, you want people who want to recommend you not those who would half ass the job.


The website is called top-law-schools.com. Isn't being an "overachiever" just par for the course?

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:31 am

I don't consider myself an over-achiever... perhaps you and I are just on different levels in terms of intelligence.

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ahduth
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby ahduth » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:41 am

AnthonyNicator wrote:poor performance? you think a B in ONE CLASS your SOPHOMORE year qualifies as poor performance? well once you get that overachiever stick out of your ass, you should probably ask her. I think what will make or break you was the time you put in at office hours or engaging your professors outside of the classroom. If you didnt do either, I wouldn't waste your time. A mediocre letter of rec is worse than none at all, you want people who want to recommend you not those who would half ass the job.


lol. Sounds like you need to get the underachiever stick out of your ass. For some of us the Bs stick out like sore thumbs on our transcripts.

I'd definitely talk to her. Let her know you're thinking of law school, and tell her about the application process. Feel out what she says, maybe she'll offer to write one unsolicited. She didn't exactly fail you, only way to find out is to ask. Also, the above advice about office hours and what not is just wrong - you took four courses with her, she should be in a position to write a rec no matter what.

OmbreGracieuse
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby OmbreGracieuse » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:30 am

I don't think there is any harm in asking. I mean, ask her candidly whether or not she would feel comfortable writing you one. If your prof had any idea what was going on in your life at the time, one B should not matter in the track of 3 A-'s. If she doesn't feel comfortable writing one, then that's okay, but if she does then she might be willing to testify to the idea that the B is not an accurate representation of you academic ability, and that it is impressive you were still able to get a B while undergoing so many family issues (or something to that effect). Either way, I don't think it would hurt to ask your professor, so long as you ask whether or not she is comfortable doing so first.

acrossthelake
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:30 pm

Nightrunner wrote:As a general rule, if you have to give someone an excuse when you ask them to write an LOR, they probably shouldn't write your LOR.

Still, if you have no one else, then your plan sounds like the best bet.


NR always has TCR.

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:31 pm

TCR? Thanks for your input guys---keep it coming.

I really agree that it might be beneficial to get this recommendation so that she can say the B was uncharacteristic.

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LegallyBlonde923
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby LegallyBlonde923 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:42 pm

NYC1010 wrote:I don't consider myself an over-achiever... perhaps you and I are just on different levels in terms of intelligence.


+1

Also, it sounds like the professor should know you well enough (unless you're at a school where classes are comprised of hundreds of people) to know the B was an fluke. I'd go by the prof's office hours and explain your concern, my guess is they will still be capable of writing you a great letter.

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby CGI Fridays » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:11 pm

Please stop spamming other on-topic threads with "can anyone advise?" and a link to this thread.

acrossthelake
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:42 pm

CGI Fridays wrote:Please stop spamming other on-topic threads with "can anyone advise?" and a link to this thread.


+1
You've basically received the level of quality of answers that you're going to at this point.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:46 am

Is the B class the most recent class you will have taken with her when she writes the letter?

By virtue of it being a seminar, was there more work/direct interaction than in the other courses you took with her?

If both of these are true, I probably wouldn't use it. If you haven't been in touch with the professor, she may think that you can't handle high stress or heavier work loads, and if she thinks that, you don't want her writing a rec for law school.

I also pretty firmly believe that people should take off at least a year before law school to get some perspective, so I will use this opportunity to suggest that you wait to apply until you graduate and have aced a seminar class with her next semester, and then use her as a rec.

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:07 pm

Thanks for the input everyone and sorry for spamming other threads---was a bit overzealous in my pursuit of advice.

I think i am going to talk to her and explain my situation very openly and honestly and hear what she has to say. If she is responsive and willing to write a positive recommendation then i will have her write one and assess at a later date depending on my other professors' reactions to writing recs.

Thanks again and i'll update when i know more.

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plenipotentiary
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby plenipotentiary » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:15 pm

LegallyBlonde923 wrote:
NYC1010 wrote:I don't consider myself an over-achiever... perhaps you and I are just on different levels in terms of intelligence.


+1

Also, it sounds like the professor should know you well enough (unless you're at a school where classes are comprised of hundreds of people) to know the B was an fluke. I'd go by the prof's office hours and explain your concern, my guess is they will still be capable of writing you a great letter.


The issue is that the B will be her most recent memory of him, and was in the course where she was best able to evaluate his work (a seminar). Also, an A- is just not that great. Three A-'s would feel like an insult to me.

OP, can you ask a professor who gave you an A instead? Also, are you applying this year? Because now is kind of late to be asking for recommendations.

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:11 pm

I figured giving them 2-3months was enough time---am i wrong? I will likely take the December LSAT so won't be beginning my cycle until then.

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:12 pm

Also, 3 A-s in her class is, in my opinion, quite solid---she's quite a difficult grader.

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plenipotentiary
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby plenipotentiary » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:49 pm

NYC1010 wrote:Also, 3 A-s in her class is, in my opinion, quite solid---she's quite a difficult grader.


There's nothing wrong with an A-, but was that really your best work? Do you think you would get the most enthusiastic recommendation from someone who had four opportunities to give you an A and never did? I took two classes with a super-critical professor, got an A- in both classes, and was happy with my grade -- but I wouldn't ask him for a recommendation, because clearly he still found my work lacking in some way.

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plenipotentiary
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby plenipotentiary » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:50 pm

NYC1010 wrote:I figured giving them 2-3months was enough time---am i wrong? I will likely take the December LSAT so won't be beginning my cycle until then.


I thought you said you took the October LSAT. I didn't realize you were anticipating a retake.

NYC1010
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby NYC1010 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:37 pm

Here is my dilemma regarding retaking---I think i scored high 160s, but i know i can score low to mid 170s... So i suppose it depends on the score i get back.

peaches2132
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Re: Need Advice Regarding Letter of Recommendation

Postby peaches2132 » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:33 am

Only you know what grades are characteristic of this professor and of your school. At my school, a B is perfectly respectable, as is a B- or even C+ depending on the course. I wouldn't hesitate if I'd taken so many courses with a particular professor. I also wouldn't try to explain why that grade was low -- it was a couple of years ago and it'll probably just sound like sucking up/making excuses, both of which are not usually looked kindly upon by professors.

If she's a history professor, she's probably been approached by many pre-law students, just email and ask if you could meet to talk about law school and approach the conversation as an advising session, then if she seems receptive/remembers you, ask whether she'd be comfortable. Alternatively, when you email to set up an appointment, mention that you would like to discuss a letter of recommendation and attach your resume for her consideration.

Just my thoughts. It sounds like a B may not be as acceptable at your university as it is at mine, so perhaps this isn't as applicable. Just saying: I'm damn proud of my B- in second semester organic chemistry.




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