Choosing letters of recommendation

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
MAHamlin
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Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby MAHamlin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:33 am

So, I have three letters of recommendation. Two of which are strong, one of which is likely generic. The two strong ones come from an adjunct professor outside my major and my supervisor from a successful internship with the Indiana House of Representatives. Neither, however, are from within my field of study. My third LOR is from a professor within my field of study, but I have only had one class with him and expect that his letter will have a slight template feel to it as a result.

Any advice? Submit the strongest two, even though neither come from a tenured faculty member? Submit the two which can speak to my academic standing and leave out the internship LOR? Submit all three? In essence, can a strong LOR from a non-academic source outweigh an academic LOR? Furthermore, does a LOR from an adjunct professor acceptably meet the law school's desire to receive an LOR which speaks towards your academic ability, even if that adjunct professor is outside your major?

Any advice is appreciated!

*Edited for brevity's sake. Was waaaaaaaay too long winded at first.
Last edited by MAHamlin on Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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North
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby North » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:41 am

Wow, you typed a lot there.

Send in the two good ones. The 'prestige' of your recommender matters much less than the quality of the LOR. And that -- along with everything else in your application -- matters much less than your 4.04 GPA.

Study as long as it takes to get a 172+ on the LSAT, apply early, and then go to Harvard, Yale, or Stanford.

blackandstrong
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby blackandstrong » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:45 am

TL;DR

MAHamlin
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby MAHamlin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:00 am

Sorry. That was a long post... This whole admissions process has me over-thinking most everything. I'm not typically an anxious person, but this is a huge decision.

For what it's worth, I did take the October LSAT and scored a 172. That puts me on the low end of the LSAT range at HLS and YLS, which is why I want to make sure the rest of my application is as close to perfect as I can manage.

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North
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby North » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:40 am

Yeah, you should get at least one of HYS. You're set dude, congrats.

Ti Malice
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby Ti Malice » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:12 pm

I can't speak for the effect at other schools, but Dean Asha specifically stated in a blog post that failure to submit two academic recommendations would seriously prejudice your chances of admission.

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North
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby North » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:11 pm

Ti Malice wrote:I can't speak for the effect at other schools, but Dean Asha specifically stated in a blog post that failure to submit two academic recommendations would seriously prejudice your chances of admission.

+1, you're absolutely right. Send all three, OP. Good catch, dude. Sorry OP, I didn't know you were applying to HYS when I suggested only sending two. On the whole, though, the more personal the LOR the better.

MAHamlin
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby MAHamlin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:45 pm

I did check each school to see their preference regarding number of LORs and type. Michigan also strongly recommends two academic references and a local regional strongly recommends three total LORs.

I am not applying to Yale, but am applying to Stanford and Harvard. Each school notes that a letter speaking to your academic ability is preferred, but do not say much regarding the need for at least two academic letters. Should I send all three to them to be safe?

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North
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby North » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:03 am

MAHamlin wrote:I am not applying to Yale

Why wouldn't you?

MAHamlin
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby MAHamlin » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:34 am

North wrote:
MAHamlin wrote:I am not applying to Yale

Why wouldn't you?


Several reasons, perhaps none actually any good. First, the job opportunities in Cambridge and Palo Alto are better for my wife than Hartford. Second, I'm nervous about uprooting my family once only to do it again after three years of school. I guess part of me is hoping I could secure employment in the Boston or San Francisco region out of either Harvard or Stanford and avoid pulling my daughter out of school a second time and prevent my wife from not only quitting one job, but two, all while she's paying my way through school.

Maybe I'm full of it and this line of thinking is way off base. I just know that going to law school is asking a lot of my wife who has a career and my children, one of whom will be in middle school by the time I'm through with law school. I would love to make the process as easy as possible on them.

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North
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby North » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:45 am

MAHamlin wrote:Several reasons, perhaps none actually any good. First, the job opportunities in Cambridge and Palo Alto are better for my wife than Hartford. Second, I'm nervous about uprooting my family once only to do it again after three years of school. I guess part of me is hoping I could secure employment in the Boston or San Francisco region out of either Harvard or Stanford and avoid pulling my daughter out of school a second time and prevent my wife from not only quitting one job, but two, all while she's paying my way through school.

Maybe I'm full of it and this line of thinking is way off base. I just know that going to law school is asking a lot of my wife who has a career and my children, one of whom will be in middle school by the time I'm through with law school. I would love to make the process as easy as possible on them.

No, those are actually very good reasons, but should still apply to Yale. If you strike out at Harvard and Stanford, you'll likely regret not having done so. An application isn't enrollment, and it's easily worth $100 to (possibly) have the option on the table. And there's always the option of commuting from New York or Boston if you get in. Long-ish drive, though.

ETA: You sound like a good guy.
Last edited by North on Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Killingly
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby Killingly » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:50 am

MAHamlin wrote:
Several reasons, perhaps none actually any good. First, the job opportunities in Cambridge and Palo Alto are better for my wife than Hartford. Second, I'm nervous about uprooting my family once only to do it again after three years of school. I guess part of me is hoping I could secure employment in the Boston or San Francisco region out of either Harvard or Stanford and avoid pulling my daughter out of school a second time and prevent my wife from not only quitting one job, but two, all while she's paying my way through school.

Maybe I'm full of it and this line of thinking is way off base. I just know that going to law school is asking a lot of my wife who has a career and my children, one of whom will be in middle school by the time I'm through with law school. I would love to make the process as easy as possible on them.


Well, Yale is located New Haven, not Hartford. Probably won't change your reasoning, but all the same.

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TripTrip
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby TripTrip » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:11 pm

Two letters to Yale, all three to Harvard.

The advice for Yale is to submit only two letters unless the third is exceedingly strong.

Source: Yale admissions blog.

I'm sure some economist could graph this out for me, but there is an optimal number of LORs for Yale and it's somewhere around 2.4. This is because of the "meh" factor. If you submit two references that are stellar, and then one that is just "meh," you immediately bring down the impact of the two great ones. There are some students who manage to find three professors who knock it out of the park for them, but many fall into the "meh" trap. Unless you are absolutely certain that your third recommendation is going to be beyond amazing, just sit tight. And please don't send more than three...that's just overkill.

MAHamlin
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby MAHamlin » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:04 pm

Thanks for the advice all! I may apply to Yale; we'll see. If I do it won't be for a bit as I haven't got the time during finals to create a polished 250 essay. Thankfully Yale doesn't seem to penalize late applications like most other schools, or at least so I've read.

You caught me on the Hartford bit. Dang Connecticut cities with H's!

Ti Malice
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Re: Choosing letters of recommendation

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:52 pm

MAHamlin wrote:Thanks for the advice all! I may apply to Yale; we'll see. If I do it won't be for a bit as I haven't got the time during finals to create a polished 250 essay. Thankfully Yale doesn't seem to penalize late applications like most other schools, or at least so I've read.

You caught me on the Hartford bit. Dang Connecticut cities with H's!


There are some students here that live in NYC and commute by train. It's only an hour and fifteen minutes from New Haven to Grand Central.

You should definitely apply. And you won't be penalized at all for submitting later.




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