Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

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xdskyline
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:36 am

Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby xdskyline » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:28 am

I'm only 6 months out of undergrad and do not have an academic letter of recommendation. Unfortunately, I really don't know who I would go to to ask for one. I went to a large university - don't think I ever had a class in my major under 60 students - and never got close with any of my professors, never frequented office hours, etc. None of them will even remember my name, much less my work or myself personally. I'm kicking myself now for not thinking ahead and connecting with them, but what's done is done. There were only a few professors who I took multiple classes with, and I don't believe there were any I got all A's with.

Thus, my (very poor) choices:
1. Email the profs I took multiple classes with and ask for a letter. They'd be able to say I took multiple courses with them, but I'd probably have at least one B with them and they might write about that. They wouldn't be able to say anything about me personally and it would be a really generic letter.

2. Email the profs I took one class with and got an A in. It would be a really generic letter too.

3. Not send in an academic letter of rec. I can probably get two good, personal letters of rec from my current internship. However, as far as I understand it's dangerous not to have an academic letter of rec unless you're 5+ years out of school, which I am not. Besides, I've only had the internship for a few months.


If I were to email a professor, what should I say? Should I say what classes I took with them, what grade I got in the class, include any essays I wrote for the class? Fax them photocopies of my exams for the class? I'm not sure what to do, since again, they'd have no recollection of who I was.

Any advice is appreciated.

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CalAlumni
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Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby CalAlumni » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:42 am

Do NOT email the professors! What you should do is go to your school and approach them in person, find out their office hours and make your pitch.

If you didn't have a connection with the professor then they will typically ignore your email because they don't know you from Adam, especially if they have large classes. By approaching them in person, they become more likely to say yes esp. if you're sweet and nice--email is too easy for them to just avoid.

That being said, I'm under the impression that 2 work related recommendations although not ideal, is not going to be a big detriment. If you're borderline-borderline and waitlisted and it's between you and another person, maybe it'll come into play. I'm in a similar situation but a little over 1 year out of undergrad.

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bettercallsaul91
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Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby bettercallsaul91 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:47 am

Are you sure none of them remember your name? Did you ever participate in your classes? How about the ones you got As in?

Think about a class you particularly enjoyed or wrote a good paper for, and when you email that professor, attach the paper you wrote. I think another option could be asking one of your TAs for a letter of rec ... you had a few small discussion sections with TAs, right?

And, while going to their office hours is recommended, if you've moved since then, don't worry - go ahead and e-mail. If they're the type of professors who don't email back, meh, just email another. I've always emailed professors, often prior to ever meeting them in person, and they were happy to email back. I've emailed a few in the past after a particularly great lecture and they knew who I was, even though I thought they couldn't have noticed me in the sea of faces. I think you'd be surprised.

Best wishes

vman21
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Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:49 pm

Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby vman21 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:39 am

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Last edited by vman21 on Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

xdskyline
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:36 am

Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby xdskyline » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:54 am

Thanks for the quick replies! Unfortunately, I have moved away, so an in-person visit is not an option.

I can't be entirely sure none of them remember my name, of course - but as a normal looking Asian kid at a UC, I would be highly impressed if a professor somehow remembered me. In most classes my participation was limited, mostly clarification questions or occasionally answering a question, nothing that might make a professor take note.

I only had discussion sections in my major in lower div classes, my more recent upper div classes did not have sections. I did have sections in upper div classes outside of my major, but I'm not sure how much a LOR from a TA for a gpa-booster music class I took for fun is going to impress an adcom.

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bettercallsaul91
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Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby bettercallsaul91 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:35 am

From my experience, teachers and professors who've worked at schools with high Asian American enrollments for years tend to be pretty good at telling us apart. Just narrow it down to the classes you performed the best in (especially wrote a good paper for) or enjoyed the most (<- mention that). I think a paper would really be best in this situation, because they can actually take a look at your work, and see your depth of understanding, thoroughness, and comment on it in your letter of rec in broader terms even if they didn't get to know you that well in person. If they're really cool, they'll want to see your personal statement too. Don't worry. Professors write LORs all the time for tons and tons of people ... they also tend to have kids our age who went through or are going through the same thing. They're human, and usually want to help, even at big schools like UCs.

xdskyline
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:36 am

Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby xdskyline » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:00 am

I've decided to email a professor - should I:

A) Admit that I need an academic LOR and don't have one - hence, emailing him even though he doesn't really know me. This avoids questions as to why I chose him over another professor that I might know better, why I waited so long after the class was over to ask, etc (honesty points?). But it also might also make me seem unprepared (which, admittedly, I was), which is probably not the best impression for somebody to have when they're writing a LOR for you.

B) Play it cool and just say he was one of the best professors I've ever had (true) which is the reason I'm asking him. This could avoid the problem of me looking desperate and him possibly feeling like a last resort. But it could also lead him to question why I didn't ask a prof I had a personal relationship with/why I waited so long, which could seem shady if he starts asking.

I'm leaning toward option A because I'd rather be honest with somebody that might write an LOR for me, and the prof is also a no-bs type of guy.
Last edited by xdskyline on Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: Academic LOR - How to get one after graduation?

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:04 am

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