Letters of recommendation

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

Postby bloynoys » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:11 pm

Hey guys, I have a quick question for all of you that are currently going through or have finished the application process.

I have a lot of people that could write letters for me, but I am trying to choose the few that would be the best.

The main problem I am facing is the choice between a mentor, who was a high school math and statistics teacher and baseball coach, or a comp professor in a class I did well in but do not know very well outside of a few meetings. I am a math major with a statistics concentration.

I have read all of the things that say never ever ever use a letter from high school but what if these people have had continued impact in my life throughout college? Also, would I be able to do a joint recommendation letter (the math teacher's wife was my AP lit teacher) and they both could speak to my writing as well as me personally in a way (as they have known me for 7 years) that the other letters I would have not.

Right now I have upper division math teacher that I know slightly well (though questionable how I will end up doing in his class), and a former principal that I volunteered under for an educational class that has had experience with me personally and with my writing.

Trying to avoid the "are you stupid, high school doesn't matter dumbo" responses. I know high school doesn't matter but if I ask them to fashion it as something that talks mainly about stuff since high school would that work at all?

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Re: Letters of recommendation

Postby Dany » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:16 pm

I would absolutely not use a high school teacher. I have similar mentors from high school who I've volunteered with since high school and have great relationships with, but I think it shows a lack of judgment to use a letter that will mention high school in some context. I would never ask them for a letter. In all the interviews I've seen, admissions people want to see how you've done in college, and in a college classroom (with the exception being some places who don't mind work letters.) As to the joint recommendation letter, getting two high school teachers to recommend you seems worse than just one, not better. Just ask the professor of the computer class you did well in. Give him lots of material to work with and his letter will be fine, and won't raise any eyebrows for being from high school.

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Re: Letters of recommendation

Postby bne » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:05 pm

Do not ask for a letter of recommendation from your high school teachers - stick with your college professors.

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Re: Letters of recommendation

Postby 2014 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:17 pm

I disagree with absolutely not using the high school one. If you decide to use it though I would say it should be a third letter in addition to two academic/professional ones and it should focus on your character rather than tangible experiences from high school. If you are close to him he can easily write about the type of person you are without explicitly identifying your guys' relationship as a high school teacher/student one.

A 3rd letter or a character letter is by no means necessary and in all honesty probably won't help or hurt you in the least, but if you feel like he has a picture to paint of you that doesn't come out anywhere else in your application and he can write it in an appropriate and positive way, go for it IMO.

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Re: Letters of recommendation

Postby JasonR » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:47 pm

Don't do it. Get the two best recs you can from college profs. They don't need to be from your major area either, since adcomms would rather read something about your writing and critical thinking abilities than your prowess with vectors and tensors.

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Re: Letters of recommendation

Postby bp shinners » Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:31 pm

Definitely skip the high school teacher.

Law schools like to see that you continue to develop relationships with professors throughout your academic career. While not necessarily justified, getting a high school professor (no matter how close) can be seen as a tacit admission that you haven't developed a similar relationship since then.

LoRs aren't really qualifiers - they're more disqualifiers. If you can't find 2-3 good ones, that calls your application into question (while 2-3 amazing ones are just expected, and don't give you much of a boost). Don't give them reason to question your application on what should be a relatively easy-to-complete portion of the application.

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Re: Letters of recommendation

Postby Bildungsroman » Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:46 pm

never ever ever use a letter from high school

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