Letters of Rec Questions

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
gocats1
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Letters of Rec Questions

Postby gocats1 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:17 pm

Hey all,

I am currently an undergraduate jr. planning to apply to law school next year, but have a question about letters of recommendation. While I have one from my supervisor from my internship at my local district attorney's office last summer, and could likely get one from an internship supervisor following this summer, I don't know any professors well enough to ask for one. While I do work in a Psych lab with a professor, most of the work is pretty independent so I do not interact with him regularly. This upcoming quarter I plan on attending office hours in an effort to get to know professors, but was wondering if law schools generally prefer a certain number from professors vs. work supervisors (I realize this might differ by school). Also, if anyone has any general advice about getting letters of rec from profs, I would really appreciate it. For example, how often should I attend office hours?

sarahlawg
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby sarahlawg » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:16 pm

I don't know if you already do this, but you should also try to talk in class. I was able to establish very good relationships when I was in school mainly through a) working closely with my adviser, which bridged several other relationships within the department b) doing the work then talking in class c) going to office hours to talk about assignments and thoughts you had about the class. Showing them you want to do well gives them a good impression of you, especially when you follow up with good grades. Also, I have found that treating them like people and not just professors (using humor, primarily) helps a lot.

HTH! good luck next cycle :)

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loblaw
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby loblaw » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:28 pm

At least one, preferably 2 should be from professors. One (or two if they allow four) is acceptable from non-profs. To get letters of rec, definitely talk in class, go to a few office hours with something intelligent to say, and try to be a generally likable human being. Profs get asked for letters from people they don't know well all the time and generally have stock letters to which they add student-specific info.

bp shinners
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby bp shinners » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:45 pm

Also, if you go to a larger school (or even if you don't), approach a professor and ask if they're willing to write you a letter even without a close relationship. Feel them out to see how comfortable they are with it - this usually means you meet in person.

Sometimes, you'll get someone who's willing to tailor the letter to pretty much whatever you want it to say, especially if you did well in that class.

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aspire2more
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby aspire2more » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:53 pm

All the schools I visited said that academic recommendations were highly preferred over any other type of recommendation period, unless you had been out of school for at least two years. After two years, everyone said that an employer or supervisor recommendation was pretty much mandatory...along with one academic recommendation. Pretty much the only time they wouldn't unofficially require a professor's recommendation is if you'd been out of school for years (think 10+) and had a career.

If you can get two strong professor recommendations, great! Talk to that psych professor - I'm sure he at least supervises or reviews what you do, right? Do you have any experience working under a TA? They can give academic recommendations too. If you really, really can't get two professor recs, that's not optimal. At the very least, get one. If you are going straight through from undergrad, do not even think about skipping a recommendation from a professor. You might one day be an awesome lawyer, and an internship supervisor may be able to attest to that, but unless you can convince the admissions committee that you can succeed in the prerequisite to law practice (law school), you won't get the opportunity.

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Pleasye
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby Pleasye » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:55 pm

Considering you will be going straight from UG to LS you should have at least one LOR from a professor, but preferably two.

You have time left this semester to start going to office hours/talking in class to get close enough to a couple of your professors and ask them for letters. Ask a couple from this semester or go to a professor whose class you did well in and ask them. You can provide professors with enough information about yourself (resume, personal statement, transcript with the classes and grades you got in those classes highlighted etc) that they don't really need to remember you. Obviously it would be better if you had a great relationship with your professors but if you don't you don't need to worry about it too much.

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YaSvoboden
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby YaSvoboden » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:10 am

Set up your schedule to have breaks between classes. Follow your professors around during these breaks (don't let them see you, that would be weird.) One of your professors will probably use this break that you happen to share to eat. Join them.

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Pleasye
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby Pleasye » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:58 pm

YaSvoboden wrote:Set up your schedule to have breaks between classes. Follow your professors around during these breaks (don't let them see you, that would be weird.) One of your professors will probably use this break that you happen to share to eat. Join them.

notsureifsrs.jpg

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YaSvoboden
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby YaSvoboden » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:13 pm

Pleasye wrote:
YaSvoboden wrote:Set up your schedule to have breaks between classes. Follow your professors around during these breaks (don't let them see you, that would be weird.) One of your professors will probably use this break that you happen to share to eat. Join them.

notsureifsrs.jpg


Partially serious. Do not stalk your professors, I really see no good coming of this. However, last semester I did have a professor that I bumped into at the cafeteria right after my class with him. A few of us from the class ate with him about twice a week all semester and I will be getting a solid letter from him.

Beyond that it was just a really cool experience to get to know him better. It was an international business class and he had a lot of cool stories to share that he didn't have time for in class.

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Pleasye
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby Pleasye » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:15 pm

YaSvoboden wrote:Partially serious. Do not stalk your professors, I really see no good coming of this. However, last semester I did have a professor that I bumped into at the cafeteria right after my class with him. A few of us from the class ate with him about twice a week all semester and I will be getting a solid letter from him.

Beyond that it was just a really cool experience to get to know him better. It was an international business class and he had a lot of cool stories to share that he didn't have time for in class.

Ah gotcha. I know that it's different at some bigger schools but my professors were always really accessible. You could go talk to them in office hours but you can also go up to them after class or when you see them on campus. It's pretty easy to get close to a professor if you show an interest in their class or just in getting to know them.

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YaSvoboden
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby YaSvoboden » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:48 pm

My school is fairly large, about 30,000 students, but my classes are never over 50 students and my professors all know my name. It's not hard to speak with professors after class or in their office, I even talked with one about march madness for about half an hour the other day when he was just sitting down in the hall. That is what the OP should do, just be an actively participating student and go to the professor's office with any questions about material, assignments or even anything from the class that you want to know more about. And from my original comment, take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves.

spek
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby spek » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:02 pm

I have a question along the lines of OP's--I am confident I can get two good letters from my thesis advisors but I know some schools accept 3 or even 4 so I've thought about 2 other professors that I could ask to write me letters. The latter two don't know me as well/haven't worked with me as closely but I did do well in their classes. Is it better to have only 2 very good letters or 4 letters, 2 of which may only be "somewhat good"?

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YaSvoboden
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby YaSvoboden » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:25 pm

spek wrote:I have a question along the lines of OP's--I am confident I can get two good letters from my thesis advisors but I know some schools accept 3 or even 4 so I've thought about 2 other professors that I could ask to write me letters. The latter two don't know me as well/haven't worked with me as closely but I did do well in their classes. Is it better to have only 2 very good letters or 4 letters, 2 of which may only be "somewhat good"?


I went to a thing the other night where we had a Q&A with admissions deans from like 6 law schools and someone asked a pretty similar question. The consensus among them was that a letter of recommendation should tell them something that they don't know from the rest of the application. Even a letter saying the student excelled in the class, showed hard work, wrote a high quality paper about this, blah blah blah, is nothing that they don't really know from the A for that class on the transcript.

It sounds like 2 will actually add something and 2 might end up being a little vanilla. So unless it actually adds something, why put it in the application?

spek
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby spek » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:29 pm

That makes sense and is what I was inclined to think. Thanks!

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Pleasye
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby Pleasye » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:29 pm

spek wrote:I have a question along the lines of OP's--I am confident I can get two good letters from my thesis advisors but I know some schools accept 3 or even 4 so I've thought about 2 other professors that I could ask to write me letters. The latter two don't know me as well/haven't worked with me as closely but I did do well in their classes. Is it better to have only 2 very good letters or 4 letters, 2 of which may only be "somewhat good"?

There's a big difference of opinion here on how many letters you should send to schools that accept up to 4 letters. IMO, send the required amount of letters to your schools (the required for most schools is 2). There is no need to drown the schools with LOR's as they are not that big of a deal in the process. If you have two great letters from professors who you have worked closely with and you know they will speak positively about you then that is enough. Also, schools may not even read all of the letters that you send them so sending the two best ones means they probably will read those two good ones and not 1 great and 1 okay one if you send four.

If you really want to send more than two letters then send three, four is just too many.

Edit: also what YaSvoboden said above.

spek
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby spek » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:34 pm

Alright sounds good. Thanks for the responses!

sarahlawg
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby sarahlawg » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:14 pm

spek wrote:Alright sounds good. Thanks for the responses!


just to add, you can also get those and send one or both with LOCIs if you want.

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alexonfyre
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby alexonfyre » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:33 pm

So by the time my admissions cycle rolls around, I will have been working for two years. I have already secured LoRs from 3 profs who I was relatively close to (via speaking in class intelligently, doing well in class, going to office hours, inviting them out for drinks, becoming friends, etc.) but will I need to get one from my supervisor as well? (not that it would be an issue, just weird, since we are about the same age and hold roughly the same rank.)

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Pleasye
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby Pleasye » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:38 pm

alexonfyre wrote:So by the time my admissions cycle rolls around, I will have been working for two years. I have already secured LoRs from 3 profs who I was relatively close to (via speaking in class intelligently, doing well in class, going to office hours, inviting them out for drinks, becoming friends, etc.) but will I need to get one from my supervisor as well? (not that it would be an issue, just weird, since we are about the same age and hold roughly the same rank.)

I think you're fine with the 3 academic LOR's, 2 years out is not that long of a time. If anything, call a couple of the schools that you're planning on applying to and ask them what they think.

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alexonfyre
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby alexonfyre » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:59 am

Pleasye wrote:
alexonfyre wrote:So by the time my admissions cycle rolls around, I will have been working for two years. I have already secured LoRs from 3 profs who I was relatively close to (via speaking in class intelligently, doing well in class, going to office hours, inviting them out for drinks, becoming friends, etc.) but will I need to get one from my supervisor as well? (not that it would be an issue, just weird, since we are about the same age and hold roughly the same rank.)

I think you're fine with the 3 academic LOR's, 2 years out is not that long of a time. If anything, call a couple of the schools that you're planning on applying to and ask them what they think.


Cool, thanks, I think NU probably wants the work LOR, but that is likely it. I will call the others though.

sarahlawg
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby sarahlawg » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:04 pm

alexonfyre wrote:
Pleasye wrote:
alexonfyre wrote:So by the time my admissions cycle rolls around, I will have been working for two years. I have already secured LoRs from 3 profs who I was relatively close to (via speaking in class intelligently, doing well in class, going to office hours, inviting them out for drinks, becoming friends, etc.) but will I need to get one from my supervisor as well? (not that it would be an issue, just weird, since we are about the same age and hold roughly the same rank.)

I think you're fine with the 3 academic LOR's, 2 years out is not that long of a time. If anything, call a couple of the schools that you're planning on applying to and ask them what they think.


Cool, thanks, I think NU probably wants the work LOR, but that is likely it. I will call the others though.


remember NU wants the CPE.

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alexonfyre
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby alexonfyre » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:37 pm

sarahlawg wrote:
alexonfyre wrote:
Pleasye wrote:
alexonfyre wrote:So by the time my admissions cycle rolls around, I will have been working for two years. I have already secured LoRs from 3 profs who I was relatively close to (via speaking in class intelligently, doing well in class, going to office hours, inviting them out for drinks, becoming friends, etc.) but will I need to get one from my supervisor as well? (not that it would be an issue, just weird, since we are about the same age and hold roughly the same rank.)

I think you're fine with the 3 academic LOR's, 2 years out is not that long of a time. If anything, call a couple of the schools that you're planning on applying to and ask them what they think.


Cool, thanks, I think NU probably wants the work LOR, but that is likely it. I will call the others though.


remember NU wants the CPE.


Oh okay, is that the "Evaluator" spot on LSAC? I have the checklists and such, but they don't release the actual apps until like september or something.

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Pleasye
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Re: Letters of Rec Questions

Postby Pleasye » Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:12 pm

alexonfyre wrote:Oh okay, is that the "Evaluator" spot on LSAC? I have the checklists and such, but they don't release the actual apps until like september or something.

The evaluations are a different thing. NU has it's own separate form that they want filled out.




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