Do I need an academic LOR?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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shifty_eyed
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Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby shifty_eyed » Fri May 25, 2012 10:47 am

I graduated in May 2010, so by Fall 2013 I will have been out of school for 3 years. I don't have a great GPA, but there is a professor that agreed to write me a LOR last year (but I never followed through with him because I decided not to apply). I went to a small school, but I didn't really build any good relationships with any professors besides that one, and I didn't follow up with him, so he might think I'm flaky now.

I can definitely get two or more glowing recommendations from my current job.

What should I do?

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Kikero
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby Kikero » Fri May 25, 2012 10:50 am

You'll want at least 1 academic LOR. It might be different if you had been graduated for 10+ years, but 2010 isn't really that long a time ago.

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Nova
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby Nova » Fri May 25, 2012 10:55 am

Hey, Im like you. Graduated spring '10. Didnt really know any profs well. Had a prof write me a letter of rec for a grad program. Ultimately did not go to grad school. Didnt want to ask that prof again, because we really were not that close (and the letter he wrote me the 1st time was a bare skeleton). So, I had both my current bosses, who i work with every day, write my LORs. It worked out fine. My cycle went better than I expected (out performed numbers). So I would say, NO, you dont NEED academic LORs. However, it would be ideal to have at least one.

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shifty_eyed
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby shifty_eyed » Fri May 25, 2012 10:57 am

Kikero wrote:You'll want at least 1 academic LOR. It might be different if you had been graduated for 10+ years, but 2010 isn't really that long a time ago.


That's what I was afraid of.

Image

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shifty_eyed
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby shifty_eyed » Fri May 25, 2012 10:59 am

Nova wrote:Hey, Im like you. Graduated spring '10. Didnt really know any profs well. Had a prof write me a letter of rec for a grad program. Ultimately did not go to grad school. Didnt want to ask that prof again, because we really were not that close (and the letter he wrote me the 1st time was a bare skeleton). So, I had both my current bosses, who i work with every day, write my LORs. It worked out fine. My cycle went better than I expected (out performed numbers). So I would say, NO, you dont NEED academic LORs. However, it would be ideal to have at least one.


Image

THIS gives me hope!!

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airbud
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby airbud » Fri May 25, 2012 11:41 am

The conventional wisdom, I think, is that the quality of the LOR is the most important factor in determining who to select to write them. So, if you can get great LORs from people who know you well and don't happen to be academics, then you're good to go.

I think there's such an emphasis on academic LORs because AdComms are primarily concerned with how you will perform in an academic environment. I suppose that makes sense on the surface. But, I believe that you can deliver the AdComms what they're looking for by prepping your LOR writers and explaining that law schools are looking for certain qualities. They should be able to frame your work experience in terms that are impressive to law schools.

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shifty_eyed
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby shifty_eyed » Fri May 25, 2012 11:52 am

I think I will try to get 2 work LORs, and 1 academic LOR. I figure even if the academic one isn't all that great, it will show that I can get at least one professor to vouch for me despite my low GPA?

Or would 2 good work LORs only look better than 2 good work LORs and 1 mediocre academic LOR?

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dingbat
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby dingbat » Fri May 25, 2012 11:55 am

If you're a recent graduate, you should try to get one.
It matters more for some schools than others.
Also, if you're a 180/4.0, most schools don't care

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shifty_eyed
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby shifty_eyed » Fri May 25, 2012 12:00 pm

dingbat wrote:If you're a recent graduate, you should try to get one.
It matters more for some schools than others.
Also, if you're a 180/4.0, most schools don't care


shifty_eyed wrote:I don't have a great GPA


What schools does it matter more for?

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dingbat
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby dingbat » Fri May 25, 2012 12:04 pm

shifty_eyed wrote:
dingbat wrote:If you're a recent graduate, you should try to get one.
It matters more for some schools than others.
Also, if you're a 180/4.0, most schools don't care


shifty_eyed wrote:I don't have a great GPA


What schools does it matter more for?
I don't know, but I'd say it's a bigger deal if you're below medians and less if you're above.

Edit: it definitely matters for Yale

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BVest
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby BVest » Fri May 25, 2012 12:25 pm

dingbat wrote:If you're a recent graduate, you should try to get one.
It matters more for some schools than others.
Also, if you're a 180/4.0, most schools don't care


Yeah, if you're 4.0 and from a decent school (or tough degree program at otherwise crappy school), you basically just need the LOR to show that you're not a psychopath. Your GPA pretty well speaks for your academic abilities.

I think the academic LOR is more necessary based on a combination of (a) how recent a grad you are and (b) how little your GPA speaks for itself (i.e. how low your GPA is or how questionable your degree program is). Five years out and good GPA/program, focus on good work LORs... get an academic but it can be "Bobby would do well in law school because he got an A in my class"; five years out and low GPA, get an academic LOR from a professor who doesn't think you're a complete waste (the spanish professor who gave you the spanish name Borracho for class discussions might not be the best) to show that you can excel in academics when you apply yourself and are not bored out of your skull by required distribution classes.

Since I've grown bored of watching the plumber who's at my place this AM, here's a rough formula I just pulled out of my ass, but after review, I'm happy with how well it works. The only thing it doesn't account for is strength of your undergrad program:

Importance of Academic LOR (among your LOR collection): YO= Years Out

Importance = 2.25/(uGPA+(0.7*YO))

So if you're still in undergrad and you've got a 2.25 gpa, academic LORs are the end all, be all of your LOR collection (obs, you'll also be working hard on that addendum).

If you're about to graduate and have a 4.0, they're 0.563, or about 56% important among your LOR collection, as in you need one and it should be good, but you can also focus on others like your summer boss, the ED at the non-profit where you volunteer, etc.

If you're 10 years out with a 3.0, they're about 20% important to your LOR collection, as in if you can get one, great... but WE letters are far more important.

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shifty_eyed
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby shifty_eyed » Fri May 25, 2012 12:35 pm

BVest wrote:
dingbat wrote:If you're a recent graduate, you should try to get one.
It matters more for some schools than others.
Also, if you're a 180/4.0, most schools don't care


Yeah, if you're 4.0 and from a decent school (or tough degree program at otherwise crappy school), you basically just need the LOR to show that you're not a psychopath. Your GPA pretty well speaks for your academic abilities.

I think the academic LOR is more necessary based on a combination of (a) how recent a grad you are and (b) how little your GPA speaks for itself (i.e. how low your GPA is or how questionable your degree program is). Five years out and good GPA/program, focus on good work LORs... get an academic but it can be "Bobby would do well in law school because he got an A in my class"; five years out and low GPA, get an academic LOR from a professor who doesn't think you're a complete waste (the spanish professor who gave you the spanish name Borracho for class discussions might not be the best) to show that you can excel in academics when you apply yourself and are not bored out of your skull by required distribution classes.

Since I've grown bored of watching the plumber who's at my place this AM, here's a rough formula I just pulled out of my ass, but after review, I'm happy with how well it works. The only thing it doesn't account for is strength of your undergrad program:

Importance of Academic LOR (among your LOR collection): YO= Years Out

Importance = 2.25/(uGPA+(0.7*YO))

So if you're still in undergrad and you've got a 2.25 gpa, academic LORs are the end all, be all of your LOR collection (obs, you'll also be working hard on that addendum).

If you're about to graduate and have a 4.0, they're 0.563, or about 56% important among your LOR collection, as in you need one and it should be good, but you can also focus on others like your summer boss, the ED at the non-profit where you volunteer, etc.

If you're 10 years out with a 3.0, they're about 20% important to your LOR collection, as in if you can get one, great... but WE letters are far more important.


According to your formula, the importance for me is about 40%. I guess that sounds about right. As in, I probably should, but it shouldn't be an auto-ding if I don't have one.

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BVest
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Re: Do I need an academic LOR?

Postby BVest » Fri May 25, 2012 1:02 pm

It's clearly a rough formula, but I'm happy with it for its simplicity.




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