LOR question

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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acs507
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LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:17 pm

Trying to decide whether to submit a letter from a graduate assistant that knows me very well or a professor who barely knows me for my last rec.

Basically, any advice on which I should go with?

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:19 pm

The one who knows you very well.

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jump_man
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Re: LOR question

Postby jump_man » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:42 pm

Grad assistant for sure. A professor that barely knows you won't be able to identify your specific accomplishments (schools like to hear about those).

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acs507
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Re: LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:50 pm

I don't know.
I guess what I'm doubting is whether a graduate assistant will be comfortable enough with the LOR format and whether they will have enough clout as a recommender.

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:51 pm

acs507 wrote:I don't know.
I guess what I'm doubting is whether a graduate assistant will be comfortable enough with the LOR format and whether they will have enough clout as a recommender.


This

jump_man wrote:Grad assistant for sure. A professor that barely knows you won't be able to identify your specific accomplishments (schools like to hear about those).



is why it should be the assistant

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:51 pm

I think you're giving the LOR more influence/weight than it deserves.

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acs507
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Re: LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:55 pm

gaud wrote:I think you're giving the LOR more influence/weight than it deserves.


Probably. I'm just stressed out over the whole application process.

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:58 pm

acs507 wrote:
gaud wrote:I think you're giving the LOR more influence/weight than it deserves.


Probably. I'm just stressed out over the whole application process.


Understandable. LORs matter, but nothing close to your numbers. That being said, schools want LORs to learn about you, not to see who you could get to write it. Going with the graduate assistant is the better choice in my opinion.

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jump_man
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Re: LOR question

Postby jump_man » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:01 pm

acs507 wrote:I don't know.
I guess what I'm doubting is whether a graduate assistant will be comfortable enough with the LOR format and whether they will have enough clout as a recommender.


Grad assistants love writing recommendations - it makes them feel like they are doing something important.

Law schools don't really care about the clout of the recommender (unless it's your parent, high school basketball coach, or someone like that). They do care about what you have/haven't accomplished, and if a recommender can't identify specifics, the LOR is basically worthless.

For that matter, TLS consensus is that LORs rarely make applications stronger, but weak LORs DEFINITELY hurt applications.

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acs507
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Re: LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:32 pm

What criteria would you use to define weak recommendation letter?

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:35 pm

acs507 wrote:What criteria would you use to define weak recommendation letter?


Someone who doesn't know you well. They're just going to say the same general crap that you'd expect a recommender to say whereas someone that actually knows you can pinpoint your actual strengths and say it with more conviction.

Adcomms read LORs all day long, they will likely be able to tell whether or not your letter is from someone who actually knows you or not.

I'm not sure why you keep asking these questions. To be honest, you seem pretty set on using the LOR we're saying you shouldn't use.

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acs507
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Re: LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:41 pm

gaud wrote:
I'm not sure why you keep asking these questions. To be honest, you seem pretty set on using the LOR we're saying you shouldn't use.


You don't have to be rude. I'm just finding this to be a difficult part of the application process. Most of my classes have had 70+ students in them, and I am finding it difficult to find recommenders that I think will write good, personal letters.

The graduate assistant I asked seemed extremely hesitant to do it. I have one solid rec already in, but am just floundering a bit to find the second one.

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acs507
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Re: LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:46 pm

But thanks everyone, I will go with the graduate student who knows me well.

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abcde12345
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Re: LOR question

Postby abcde12345 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:46 pm

acs507 wrote:You don't have to be rude. I'm just finding this to be a difficult part of the application process. Most of my classes have had 70+ students in them, and I am finding it difficult to find recommenders that I think will write good, personal letters.

The graduate assistant I asked seemed extremely hesitant to do it. I have one solid rec already in, but am just floundering a bit to find the second one.


Ahh, see this is key info. Never get a letter from a hesitant recommender. You want the best letter possible. Plus, if your grad student really thought you were exceptional and if you knew him well, he would learn how to write a letter to benefit you. So this is a little suspicious.

Still, everyone else is right, IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO GET A REC FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS YOU WELL. But don't take our word for it: check out Yale Law Admissions' Blog:

http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... -this.aspx

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:48 pm

acs507 wrote:But thanks everyone, I will go with the graduate student who knows me well.


Best of luck. Just so we're clear, I wasn't trying to be rude. My bad.

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jump_man
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Re: LOR question

Postby jump_man » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:49 pm

acs507 wrote:What criteria would you use to define weak recommendation letter?


Here is an example from UMass Amherst's faculty guide for LOR writing:

Example of a Weak Letter

A weak letter is short, vague, full of generalities, and “damns with faint praise.” In the worst case, it doesn’t talk about the specific scholarship or even mentions the wrong one. Here is one such example:

Jane Doe is a double major honors student in X and Y, with a cumulative average of 3.45. I am the Chief Undergraduate Advisor in X. Jane is focusing her X major on issues of minorities in urban settings. Jane has been able to meet the demands of both her majors, as well as spend a semester doing an internship and study program abroad. Here at UMass she has been involved in both the Golden Key Honor Society and the Annual Fund. In the Spring semester she was very involved in raising awareness and funds for disaster relief in Albania.


The professor who barely knows you will write something like this. Why is your grad assistant hesitant to write the LOR? Most grad assistant would be excited that they finally have the opportunity to help a student in a meaningful way. Do you have a faculty advisor who might know you a bit better than other professors?

Considering how late it is in the admissions cycle, getting your LORs should be a top priority. LSAC can take over a month to process LORs, so be sure to tell your recommenders that you need them as soon as possible. You should also talk to your schools to see if they can review other parts of your application before your LORs arrive. It would be a shame if admissions committees didn't look at your application until January simply because you didn't have LORS.

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:50 pm

Also, fax the LORs if you can.

In my experience it was WAY faster

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jump_man
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Re: LOR question

Postby jump_man » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:52 pm

gaud wrote:Also, fax the LORs if you can.

In my experience it was WAY faster


^ This is excellent advice.

I wonder if any snail mail LORs got washed away in the hurricane . . .

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:54 pm

jump_man wrote:I wonder if any snail mail LORs got washed away in the hurricane . . .


Lol can you imagine? :lol:

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abcde12345
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Re: LOR question

Postby abcde12345 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:55 pm

jump_man wrote:
gaud wrote:Also, fax the LORs if you can.

In my experience it was WAY faster


^ This is excellent advice.

I wonder if any snail mail LORs got washed away in the hurricane . . .


Why not use LSACs electronic submission? It was same-day-service for my recommenders. Did I miss something?

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gaud
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Re: LOR question

Postby gaud » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:55 pm

abcde12345 wrote:
jump_man wrote:
gaud wrote:Also, fax the LORs if you can.

In my experience it was WAY faster


^ This is excellent advice.

I wonder if any snail mail LORs got washed away in the hurricane . . .


Why not use LSACs electronic submission? It was same-day-service for my recommenders. Did I miss something?


They didn't have anything like that when I applied.

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abcde12345
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Re: LOR question

Postby abcde12345 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:57 pm

gaud wrote:They didn't have anything like that when I applied.


Oh. It's new this year. It really is great.

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acs507
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Re: LOR question

Postby acs507 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:01 pm

I didn't realize they took so long to process! One is already with LSAC, so it's just a matter of getting the other in.
Thank you all for all of the advice!

And considering the mess with hurricane Sandy and the fact that it took forever to get October scores, I wouldn't be surprised if stuff got lost. :|

deepwater
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Re: LOR question

Postby deepwater » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:07 am

what about diversity in LORs? I have people that can attest to my leadership abilities, academic abilities and my character (my boss, a professor and a judge/friend of mine, respectively). However, they are all white, middle-class, protestant males. Should I look for someone to add some diversity to my LOR pool or does it matter that much?




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