Will this kill my chances at HYS?

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Pancakes12
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Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Pancakes12 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:27 pm

My gpa and LSAT are at or above the 75th percentile for HYS, but would it be acceptable to ask TA for a LOR for these schools? Here is my situation:

I have two professors that will write me great LORs. Professor 1 has already agree to do so. The problem is, I had them both for the same course (it was a small honors seminar that they co-taught). Would it be a bad idea for me to ask professor 2 given that they taught the same course? the only other capacity that professor 2 has seen me in is as a research assistant for a summer. But we didnt have a lot of contact during that time because he was co-managing the project with another prof.

Or should skip prof 2 and ask a TA that I had that would also write me a great letter? (but he's still just a TA, and I'm gunning for Yale).

Or should I ask all three if I feel all three letters will be very strong?

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lhn5007
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby lhn5007 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:04 pm

I would ask both professors definitely and maybe the TA. Being a research assistant for Professor 2 and getting to know him better through the seminar makes him an ideal candidate. He might just need a reminder that you were also a research assistant for him. I feel like this situation would be the same for someone who wanted a LOR from two managers at their corporate office, they both know him in the same capacity.

Pancakes12
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Pancakes12 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:06 pm

lhn5007 wrote:I would ask both professors definitely and maybe the TA. Being a research assistant for Professor 2 and getting to know him better through the seminar makes him an ideal candidate. He might just need a reminder that you were also a research assistant for him. I feel like this situation would be the same for someone who wanted a LOR from two managers at their corporate office, they both know him in the same capacity.


So you don't feel that top schools will look down on the fact that the profs taught me in the same exact class?

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nothingtosee
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby nothingtosee » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:09 pm

I think it would be a bit fishy in the eyes of a Yale law prof: "this person has a 3.95 and can't find two classes where they could get a glowing rec?" But thats just me. H seems to be a lock regardless

Pancakes12
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Pancakes12 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:12 pm

nothingtosee wrote:I think it would be a bit fishy in the eyes of a Yale law prof: "this person has a 3.95 and can't find two classes where they could get a glowing rec?" But thats just me. H seems to be a lock regardless


I go to a large public university, so getting to know profs is hard. Some that I could ask have left, others that have liked me I don't trust to write a good letter. Like I said, the TA could write me a glowing letter but will that hurt my chances at Yale?

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lastsamurai
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby lastsamurai » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:16 pm

I'd say go ahead and ask all 3 so at least they all upload one to LSAC. You can choose after the fact whether you want to submit all 3 or just 2. I have a similar situation where the 2 professors I'm asking for LORs know me in a similar way, so I'm asking for a third work-related LOR.

Your scores put you in excellent shape, but I can understand wanting to make sure you don't give them a reason to ding you. Good luck!

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Cicero76
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Cicero76 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:32 pm

jlb251 wrote:
nothingtosee wrote:I think it would be a bit fishy in the eyes of a Yale law prof: "this person has a 3.95 and can't find two classes where they could get a glowing rec?" But thats just me. H seems to be a lock regardless


I go to a large public university, so getting to know profs is hard. Some that I could ask have left, others that have liked me I don't trust to write a good letter. Like I said, the TA could write me a glowing letter but will that hurt my chances at Yale?


Yes, it will hurt your chances at Yale. I believe Asha has a blog post about it somewhere--there's a slight mark against you if you can't find two different professors who really know and like your work. I also doubt you get a pass for being at a large school--my UG had 33,000 undergrads, but I still managed to get very close to professors in two different departments by impressing them with my writing and then doing a year long thesis project with each. It's possible, you just have to go get it. If you're still in UG you still have time.

EDIT: I should add that HS are unlikely to care at all

EDIT 2: Just saw that you asked about TAs. Asha's blog says they prefer full professors, but a TA who knows you is better than a prof who doesn't.

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nothingtosee
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby nothingtosee » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:52 pm

Cicero76 wrote:
jlb251 wrote:
nothingtosee wrote:I think it would be a bit fishy in the eyes of a Yale law prof: "this person has a 3.95 and can't find two classes where they could get a glowing rec?" But thats just me. H seems to be a lock regardless


I go to a large public university, so getting to know profs is hard. Some that I could ask have left, others that have liked me I don't trust to write a good letter. Like I said, the TA could write me a glowing letter but will that hurt my chances at Yale?


Yes, it will hurt your chances at Yale. I believe Asha has a blog post about it somewhere--there's a slight mark against you if you can't find two different professors who really know and like your work. I also doubt you get a pass for being at a large school--my UG had 33,000 undergrads, but I still managed to get very close to professors in two different departments by impressing them with my writing and then doing a year long thesis project with each. It's possible, you just have to go get it. If you're still in UG you still have time.

EDIT: I should add that HS are unlikely to care at all

EDIT 2: Just saw that you asked about TAs. Asha's blog says they prefer full professors, but a TA who knows you is better than a prof who doesn't.


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

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:28 pm

Why do you suspect the TA will say "I am not a tenured Professor, I am a TA"? because I promise you the file-readers at HYS won't google their name.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:37 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Why do you suspect the TA will say "I am not a tenured Professor, I am a TA"? because I promise you the file-readers at HYS won't google their name.

Isn't it usually the case that when you write a letter, one of the first things you say is the context in which you knew the student? (I remember all the LOR directions asking us to do this.) So the TA would likely say, "I know student X from when s/he was a student in Hist 101, where I was the TA." I suppose you could ask the TA not to identify themselves as such and just say "in my Hist 101 class," but I think that be a little misleading and asking the TA to do so would look a little weird.

(I'm presuming the TA was a TA to a prof who was the official instructor of the course. If the TA was a grad student independent instructor, then it doesn't matter.)

But obviously you've seen these letters from the adcomm perspective, so I defer to that.

Pancakes12
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Pancakes12 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:08 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Why do you suspect the TA will say "I am not a tenured Professor, I am a TA"? because I promise you the file-readers at HYS won't google their name.

Isn't it usually the case that when you write a letter, one of the first things you say is the context in which you knew the student? (I remember all the LOR directions asking us to do this.) So the TA would likely say, "I know student X from when s/he was a student in Hist 101, where I was the TA." I suppose you could ask the TA not to identify themselves as such and just say "in my Hist 101 class," but I think that be a little misleading and asking the TA to do so would look a little weird.

(I'm presuming the TA was a TA to a prof who was the official instructor of the course. If the TA was a grad student independent instructor, then it doesn't matter.)

But obviously you've seen these letters from the adcomm perspective, so I defer to that.


I agree. It would be a little sketchy to try to hide the fact that it's a TA. Also, professors usually note their position in their signature. Such as:

John Smith
Associate Professor of Whatever

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:29 pm

I think it is just as common, particularly for TA's, to say, "John Smith was a student of mine in Sassy Philosophy 101 and performed exceptionally " and then at the end..."please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions"

Professor Snape
503-555-721

I really doubt that would trigger a moments glance FYI.

Sorry to have been terse on iphone

Pancakes12
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Pancakes12 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:45 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:I think it is just as common, particularly for TA's, to say, "John Smith was a student of mine in Sassy Philosophy 101 and performed exceptionally " and then at the end..."please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions"

Professor Snape
503-555-721

I really doubt that would trigger a moments glance FYI.

Sorry to have been terse on iphone


It seems likely that if I didn't specifically tell the TA to not reveal he was a TA, then it would naturally come out. I don't think I'm up for asking him to do that.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:12 pm

jlb251 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:I think it is just as common, particularly for TA's, to say, "John Smith was a student of mine in Sassy Philosophy 101 and performed exceptionally " and then at the end..."please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions"

Professor Snape
503-555-721

I really doubt that would trigger a moments glance FYI.

Sorry to have been terse on iphone


It seems likely that if I didn't specifically tell the TA to not reveal he was a TA, then it would naturally come out. I don't think I'm up for asking him to do that.


At the second remove I don't think it matters. Admittedly I have not worked at HYS, (but I have traveled with admissions officers from 2 of those 3 schools and have discussed admissions at length on our gruesome road trips). The general consensus in admissions is that 95% of LOR are these fawning, glowing things and do not differentiate, it is the 5% that say "I don't really remember this person very well" that stand out --obviously not in a good way. So as a general matter, I would always go for the stronger rec over the stronger title.

I would add:

Alum>Prof>Your immediate family member (of whom recs I have seen).

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Balthy
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Balthy » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:17 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:I would add:

Alum>Prof>Your immediate family member (of whom recs I have seen).



I didn't know LORs from alum are so valuable. Thanks for the insight.

Pancakes12
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Pancakes12 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:24 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
jlb251 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:I think it is just as common, particularly for TA's, to say, "John Smith was a student of mine in Sassy Philosophy 101 and performed exceptionally " and then at the end..."please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions"

Professor Snape
503-555-721

I really doubt that would trigger a moments glance FYI.

Sorry to have been terse on iphone


It seems likely that if I didn't specifically tell the TA to not reveal he was a TA, then it would naturally come out. I don't think I'm up for asking him to do that.


At the second remove I don't think it matters. Admittedly I have not worked at HYS, (but I have traveled with admissions officers from 2 of those 3 schools and have discussed admissions at length on our gruesome road trips). The general consensus in admissions is that 95% of LOR are these fawning, glowing things and do not differentiate, it is the 5% that say "I don't really remember this person very well" that stand out --obviously not in a good way. So as a general matter, I would always go for the stronger rec over the stronger title.

I would add:

Alum>Prof>Your immediate family member (of whom recs I have seen).


What do you think about my specific situation though? (As in OP) Professor 2 may give a slightly stronger LOR, but his LOR may be very similar to Prof1's. With your experience, who would you choose? TA for freshness or Prof 2 for slight edge and faculty status?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:54 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:I think it is just as common, particularly for TA's, to say, "John Smith was a student of mine in Sassy Philosophy 101 and performed exceptionally " and then at the end..."please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions"

Professor Snape
503-555-721

I really doubt that would trigger a moments glance FYI.

Sorry to have been terse on iphone

TAs generally don't call themselves Professor, though (because they're not). (Will shut up now.)

rendlelaw
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby rendlelaw » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:06 pm

Hmm....
I was also planning on using two LORs from one class but different ends of it. It was a thesis seminar where one professor led the class discussion every week where we talked about each others ideas and sharpened each others papers. There was another professor unrelated to the class who was a specialist in my particular field of research. I did all my research and writing and talking about my own ideas with him.
I know these two individuals aren't from vastly different fields, but I figured they each got to see a different side of my academic work. What do you think? Too close?

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Cicero76
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Re: Will this kill my chances at HYS?

Postby Cicero76 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:54 pm

rendlelaw wrote:Hmm....
I was also planning on using two LORs from one class but different ends of it. It was a thesis seminar where one professor led the class discussion every week where we talked about each others ideas and sharpened each others papers. There was another professor unrelated to the class who was a specialist in my particular field of research. I did all my research and writing and talking about my own ideas with him.
I know these two individuals aren't from vastly different fields, but I figured they each got to see a different side of my academic work. What do you think? Too close?


This sounds like it's fine. If I were you, however, I would consider carefully whether the thesis seminar professor is a good choice. Did you work closely with him, or did he give you the same kind of attention that he had to give to everyone else in the thesis workshop? Also, if the only work of yours he saw was the thesis, then that's what he'll talk about in the LOR. If the thesis is the same as the one you worked on with the "specialist in your field," then your LORs will be a bit monochromatic if both professors talk about the same body of work.

If you use only one of these two because they're too similar, I would pick professor B. He's a specialist, worked specifically with you, and should be able to discuss you at length. For your second LOR I'd try to find someone with distance from your thesis who can talk about something else, but professor A isn't a terrible choice.




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