LOR Freak Out

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
stilles
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:15 am

LOR Freak Out

Postby stilles » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:17 am

Hello,

I'm applying this year and trying to secure LORs, however I have been out of school for 2 years and did not have enough foresight to secure them earlier or stay in contact with professors. As a result, I'm scrounging for professors and afraid the LOR will be extremely weak and/or I will have to get them from former TAs (if they are willing). I've contacted the few profs who I thought would write for me, however that seems like a no-go.

How important are LORs in admissions decisions? And, do you have any advice for me? BTW, I graduated from a huge public university where my profs will not remember me. Thank you and best of luck to everyone applying!

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15466
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: LOR Freak Out

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:23 am

stilles wrote:Hello,

I'm applying this year and trying to secure LORs, however I have been out of school for 2 years and did not have enough foresight to secure them earlier or stay in contact with professors. As a result, I'm scrounging for professors and afraid the LOR will be extremely weak and/or I will have to get them from former TAs (if they are willing). I've contacted the few profs who I thought would write for me, however that seems like a no-go.

How important are LORs in admissions decisions? And, do you have any advice for me? BTW, I graduated from a huge public university where my profs will not remember me. Thank you and best of luck to everyone applying!


GPA and LSAT make up 95% of the process. See if you can get at least one prof to write an LOR for you, even if it is fairly generic. Do you have any work product from a class where you received a good grade? If so, send whatever you have to that prof and hope for the best. Get a second LOR from a work supervisor if his rec would be more informative than a second one from a professor.

Don't worry too much though. It really comes down to GPA and LSAT. Just gotta get the LORs in somehow.

stilles
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:15 am

Re: LOR Freak Out

Postby stilles » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:59 pm

Thank you for your advice; I'm currently finishing up my personal statement to send to the other profs along with the work I've done for their class. I'm relieved that LORs aren't significant in the decision--woo-hoo! thanks again

MumofCad
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:46 pm

Re: LOR Freak Out

Postby MumofCad » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:16 am

stilles wrote:Thank you for your advice; I'm currently finishing up my personal statement to send to the other profs along with the work I've done for their class. I'm relieved that LORs aren't significant in the decision--woo-hoo! thanks again


Well, they can be very important actually. Your GPA/LSAT get you in the door, but strong LORs can be the tie break between you and someone with equal numbers. Really poor LORs could be a reason for a school to WL you, even with competitive numbers. You don't have to search LSN very long to realize that people with equal numbers don't get equal results.

I would try to really get to know one of your professors from undergrad again. The top schools will make exceptions for people long out of undergrad, but 2 years does not qualify for that pass.

I too would get one of the professors to sit down. School is back in session so they all have office hours. You should go in, sit down and really talk through things with your professors. That would be advisable even if they were happily willing to write a rec and you had stayed in contact with them. Sometimes a face will really jog a memory. You don't want to just write emails in your case. If they don't really know you, they may still not be able to write strong LORs, but you don't want to have a single academic LOR and have it be totally generic, unflattering, or unhelpful. It will not reflect well on your application and certainly will hurt your chances at least at one school on your list. Shoot for getting something that is at least solid. (Eta: I was searching a Chicago thread from last year to see when the first round of decisions took place and remember seeing a string of tweets mentioned from the Dean about "hitting a great strong of exciting applications, really detailed and thoughtful LORs." So yeah, it does matter in the context of their overall impression of your application and what others will be doing to get a leg up).

To that score, you should really prepare some things you would like them to flag up since they don't know you well. Many will ask you to do this anyway to help them fill out the recommendation and out of concern for really helping you by writing the very best recommendation they can to "complete" the picture you are going for in your application. In your case, you should come into the meeting with some things about their class that you really enjoyed and some aspects of your undergrad experience that make you exemplary or unique - a particularly good paper you wrote in their class, a book that inspired you to look deeper into a topic that they may not even be aware of but which you can discuss intelligently in meeting then, etc. It doesn't even need to be limited to their class. In the past, I had a Stat professor joke about going out to lunch with me at the University Club and running into a colleague in the same department that had taught a quantitative course I also took and how they joined forces to lobby me to switch majors and later discussed a paper I had written for the other one that really impressed them. He chose to write about not only his experience, but asked me if he could include the anecdote about what he learned from the other professor about me in the conversation. That has me thinking that even if you don't have a huge body of work to present due to the size of your undergrad classes, you could present the professor who agrees with other papers you wrote that were very good in their discipline (like a capstone or thesis) that they could comment upon, even if not written for their class. That might give them a little more to include in their statement...or a paper you wrote for a particularly tough professor that wouldn't be a good choice for an LOR, but whose work you are proud of....or a research project you went above and beyond on that you could explain to them. Or anecdotes about you that they might not even know, like organizing a study group to help students who were struggling or something (this was common in our Honor's department at my school since we had all the toughest profs and small courses, the stronger students often pitched in to ensure no one got left behind, sometimes the profs knew and other times they were unaware of the extensive proof-reading and collaboration that some engaged in to help others out and possibly hurt their own grades - I can see this being looked upon kindly by a school that seeks a collegial student environment). Trying to give you some ideas here of ways to spice this thing up....

CaliforniaGurl
Posts: 145
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:03 pm

Re: LOR Freak Out

Postby CaliforniaGurl » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:46 pm

Hi guys, just wanted to jump onto this thread because it seems like a lot of helpful answers are coming out of it (thanks).

I have also been out of undergrad (very large public university) for two years and have only one letter of recommendation from a TA, which I believe is very positive. I want to get my second letter of recommendation from my boss, with whom I've been working for the past 3 years, but I'm also worried about the emphasis on a PROFESSOR'S LOR. Will my TA's LOR be looked down upon significantly because it's not a professor's LOR and should I go back and try to get another professor's LOR, even though it might be weak since it's been over two years since I was in college? I also want to apply to Cornell, so this issue has me worried. Thanks a lot.

User avatar
blazinswordofjustice
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:52 pm

Re: LOR Freak Out

Postby blazinswordofjustice » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:59 pm

CaliforniaGurl wrote:Hi guys, just wanted to jump onto this thread because it seems like a lot of helpful answers are coming out of it (thanks).

I have also been out of undergrad (very large public university) for two years and have only one letter of recommendation from a TA, which I believe is very positive. I want to get my second letter of recommendation from my boss, with whom I've been working for the past 3 years, but I'm also worried about the emphasis on a PROFESSOR'S LOR. Will my TA's LOR be looked down upon significantly because it's not a professor's LOR and should I go back and try to get another professor's LOR, even though it might be weak since it's been over two years since I was in college? I also want to apply to Cornell, so this issue has me worried. Thanks a lot.


I have basically the exact same question...anyone's thoughts?

From my small amount of research, I think a professor is better than a TA (ex. when they say your the best in all their years it means more, as the TA is a relatively new teacher) but that a great TA reference would be better than a so-so letter from a prof...can anyone else chime in? (FWIW, I'm not applying to YHS...)

User avatar
blazinswordofjustice
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:52 pm

Re: LOR Freak Out

Postby blazinswordofjustice » Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:03 pm

and thanks for the thought out info mum!




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: TripTrip and 1 guest