LOR Quandary

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LOR Quandary

Postby Vexed » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:49 pm

So, I've got a little bit of a pickle in terms of my potential LOR's.

Like a few other posters I've seen, I really just don't know the majority of my professors. I've maintained a pretty good GPA, but I've done it almost entirely without having the need to attend office hours. As a consequence, I'm afraid that just about any professor I'd ask at this point would end up writing a fairly generic LOR along the lines of a few I've seen here ("We did X in class. Vexed got an A in said class.").

That being said, I have devoted a significant amount of my time to participation on my university's debate team. The type of debate I compete in is fairly rigorous in terms of academic research and analysis, and I have been receiving class credit for my participation every semester I've attended my uni. Both of my coaches also serve as professors in other capacities with the university. I'm 100% confident that my best possible LOR's at this point would be from them, but I also know that the traditional TLS stance is that admission officers want LOR's that speak to my academic potential visa vis actual classes, which I'm not sure my debate participation would be perceived as. I also know that they would like to see some diversity in where LOR's come from, and while I'm confident both of my coaches would write letters from fairly different perspectives, they would still both be speaking to their experience with me in functionally the same capacity.

Another option I've considered is taking a class in the upcoming fall semester with a professor I've previously had, visit them for a few office hours sessions, and then ask for a LOR. This may not necessarily work out (our fall class schedule has yet to be released, for all I know all of my previous professors are simply re-teaching old courses or are no longer with the university), but my fear with this route would be that the time it would take to get my professor to know me enough to write a solid LOR, and subsequently write said LOR, I'd be behind the curve in terms of applying early. I'd consider working on a professor I have now, but unfortunately I backloaded my general studies requirements, so this semester is full of 100-level classes with multiple hundreds of people covering very basic courses, so I'm afraid it would probably result in a pretty generic/bad LOR.

So, TLS, I guess my options are: (1) Go ahead with 2 very good, but possibly very similar LOR's from my coaches, (2) Use 1 LOR from my coaches, work on a professor in the fall and miss out on applying early, (3) Bite the bullet and go with 1 coach LOR and likely a very bad LOR from a previous professor.

I've also worked 30+ hrs a week to pay my way through uni, but it's retail and I'm pretty sure a LOR from my non-HS grad manager at my PT job might be worse than a generic LOR from a professor.


(Yes, I know TLS wisdom: LSAT + GPA, the rest only marginally matters... I'd still like to cover my backside on applications to those schools where I am at the margins :lol: )

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Re: LOR Quandary

Postby cgw » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:03 pm

What is stopping you from doing all of these things (minus your retail manager, obvs)? Ask both your coaches so they have plenty of time and you definitely have two LORs in hand come application time. But also put out some feelers with previous professors. Start now. See if they remember you and your work. Tell them about yourself and your law school plans. Do any of your profs have a connection to law school? One of my profs had a daughter applying to law school when I took his class and although I never went to his office hours or built a rapport with him, if I didn't have anyone else, I'd have probably tried to chat him up. Maybe just for advice at first and then ask for an LOR. You don't have to be in their class to go to their office.

As for your current profs, it can't hurt to just ask. I never had a class in a lecture hall, but I did have a lot of intro level classes with profs who were always offering to write LORs. You'd probably have to talk to them and give them something to write about, but if these are humanities themed gen ed requirements, they might be good profs to ask.

Ti Malice
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Re: LOR Quandary

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:53 pm

It's better that you know a professor personally, but it's still possible to get a decent/good letter if you don't.

Have you done any significant written work for which you received high praise in any of your classes? Do you still have those papers? Go by the professor's office hours, introduce and explain yourself, and ask for a letter. Give the prof the papers so that he or she can see the evidence of your academic performance and potential. You should still get a serviceable letter this way.

I would not submit both LORs from the debate coaches. If you're going to submit any, pick the one you think will be best.

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