LOR length/depth

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
jmjm
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 am

LOR length/depth

Postby jmjm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:29 am

How strong usually the LORs are for hys admits? I saw some posts suggesting that if one aced a course with a professor, then the professor could provide an lor. However, I am not sure if such LORs considered "good enough" for top schools.
Are these anywhere similar to b-school LORs, which are expected to very glorifying in order to be of any use?

PRgradBYU
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Re: LOR length/depth

Postby PRgradBYU » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:33 pm

jmjm wrote:How strong usually the LORs are for hys admits? I saw some posts suggesting that if one aced a course with a professor, then the professor could provide an lor. However, I am not sure if such LORs considered "good enough" for top schools.
Are these anywhere similar to b-school LORs, which are expected to very glorifying in order to be of any use?


What?

Ti Malice
Posts: 1955
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:55 am

Re: LOR length/depth

Postby Ti Malice » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:42 pm

jmjm wrote:How strong usually the LORs are for hys admits? I saw some posts suggesting that if one aced a course with a professor, then the professor could provide an lor. However, I am not sure if such LORs considered "good enough" for top schools.
Are these anywhere similar to b-school LORs, which are expected to very glorifying in order to be of any use?


LORs probably mean a lot less for H than YS, but it would obviously be good to have very strong LORs if you're applying to these schools, since much of your competition will. LORs from professors that you really impressed (academically) are obviously what you want. Ideally they would say something that truly distinguishes you, e.g., "X is one of the top two or three undergraduates I've had the pleasure of teaching in my 25 years at [good school] and [good school]," or "X's essays would be outstanding work even in one of my advanced graduate seminars." Not everyone can get letters like that, though, and not being able to isn't going to kill your chances at the top schools. But, all else being equal, it will reduce your chances at the very few schools that place a good amount of importance on LORs (Y above all).

The length of the letter per se is not important. If the professor writes a long letter with specific discussion of your superb performance in her class(es), then great. If the professor includes a bunch of boilerplate background on the topics covered in a course that he cuts and pastes into every LOR, then not so great. If a professor says something along the lines of what I wrote in the first paragraph, then the letter need not be all that long to be very powerful.

I don't know what my professors wrote exactly or how long their letters were, but I only used LORs from profs that (1) openly said very strongly positive things to me about my performance and (2) told me they would include those statements in their letters. When you talk to one of your old professors, always ask, "Do you feel like you could write me a strong LOR?" Then see how they answer. If they say yes, then they will at least write you what they consider a good LOR. (Unfortunately, the reality is that some profs kind of suck at writing LORs, even for students they really like. Short of seeing exactly what a professor actually writes or hearing some of the powerful statements he plans to include, that's just a risk that everyone faces.) If they say yes and then go into a bit of detail about the powerful statements they'll make, then you're obviously set. But at least make sure to ask the question above, instead of only asking if they're willing to write you a recommendation (as so many do, for reasons I'll never understand).

jmjm
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 am

Re: LOR length/depth

Postby jmjm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:59 am

Ti Malice wrote:
LORs probably mean a lot less for H than YS, but it would obviously be good to have very strong LORs if you're applying to these schools, since much of your competition will. LORs from professors that you really impressed (academically) are obviously what you want. Ideally they would say something that truly distinguishes you, e.g., "X is one of the top two or three undergraduates I've had the pleasure of teaching in my 25 years at [good school] and [good school]," or "X's essays would be outstanding work even in one of my advanced graduate seminars." Not everyone can get letters like that, though, and not being able to isn't going to kill your chances at the top schools. But, all else being equal, it will reduce your chances at the very few schools that place a good amount of importance on LORs (Y above all).

The length of the letter per se is not important. If the professor writes a long letter with specific discussion of your superb performance in her class(es), then great. If the professor includes a bunch of boilerplate background on the topics covered in a course that he cuts and pastes into every LOR, then not so great. If a professor says something along the lines of what I wrote in the first paragraph, then the letter need not be all that long to be very powerful.

I don't know what my professors wrote exactly or how long their letters were, but I only used LORs from profs that (1) openly said very strongly positive things to me about my performance and (2) told me they would include those statements in their letters. When you talk to one of your old professors, always ask, "Do you feel like you could write me a strong LOR?" Then see how they answer. If they say yes, then they will at least write you what they consider a good LOR. (Unfortunately, the reality is that some profs kind of suck at writing LORs, even for students they really like. Short of seeing exactly what a professor actually writes or hearing some of the powerful statements he plans to include, that's just a risk that everyone faces.) If they say yes and then go into a bit of detail about the powerful statements they'll make, then you're obviously set. But at least make sure to ask the question above, instead of only asking if they're willing to write you a recommendation (as so many do, for reasons I'll never understand).


thanks much!
LORs probably mean a lot less for H than YS - Does this mean a regular lor or even a bad one is not an issue for H as long as gpa/lsat numbers are right?

Since all these schools admit only outstanding people it's likely that all H admits with the right numbers also have strong lors despite H caring less about it.

jmjm
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 am

Re: LOR length/depth

Postby jmjm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:03 am

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Last edited by jmjm on Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ti Malice
Posts: 1955
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:55 am

Re: LOR length/depth

Postby Ti Malice » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:59 am

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