How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
GuyLafleur
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How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby GuyLafleur » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:16 pm

I currently have one LOR from one of my university profs and 1 from my former high school teacher/basketball coach whom I now co-coach with. Each of them has known for me 5-10 years and they've written pretty solid LORs. I was wondering if these two LORs will be adequate, or do I need to get a 2nd LOR from a university professor?

I'm planning on applying to Harvard, Chicago, NYU, and Columbia (plus a few Canadian schools), if that makes any difference as to the LOR requirements.

Humbert Humbert
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby Humbert Humbert » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:21 pm

2 should be academic, is the response you will get. FYI, I was planning on using 1 academic and 1 professional (current employer), but TLS convinced me to get another academic reference as well.

SFSpartan
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby SFSpartan » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:28 pm

Guessing you finished undergrad within the last couple years. Another LOR from a prof. would be helpful. That being said, I graduated 18 months ago and exclusively used professional references to write LORs. I don't believe it had any effect on my cycle. But take that with a grain of salt. I wasn't aiming as high up the food chain as you are.

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Cicero76
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby Cicero76 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:44 pm

2. Non-academic references are a lot like icing. Fluffy, and they look good, but there's not much substance

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Ramius
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby Ramius » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:53 pm

Just wanted to voice the other side of this. It really depends on your situation. I used 0 LORs from professors and used my bosses instead and I really don't think it had a negative impact on my cycle at all. I was in the position where I'm 5 years out and have work experience in a fairly intellectually rigorous field, so my bosses were able to speak knowledgably to my academic faculties. I'm not saying you're in the same position necessarily, but if the non-professor LOR can speak to your intellectual ability as well as other qualities you're trying to highlight outside of the classroom in your application, I think they can still help you.

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Cicero76
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby Cicero76 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:53 pm

matthewsean85 wrote:Just wanted to voice the other side of this. It really depends on your situation. I used 0 LORs from professors and used my bosses instead and I really don't think it had a negative impact on my cycle at all. I was in the position where I'm 5 years out and have work experience in a fairly intellectually rigorous field, so my bosses were able to speak knowledgably to my academic faculties. I'm not saying you're in the same position necessarily, but if the non-professor LOR can speak to your intellectual ability as well as other qualities you're trying to highlight outside of the classroom in your application, I think they can still help you.


In 98% of cases, LORs don't matter at all anyway. So worries about them aren't much use.

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szb5058
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby szb5058 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:10 pm

In 98% of cases, LORs don't matter at all anyway. So worries about them aren't much use.


They don't matter if they're normal, every day LORs. But they CAN matter if they're on either end of the spectrum. Terrible LORs from people who really don't know you at all will probably leave a bad taste in the readers mouth, while fantastic LORs from reputable sources, profs, professionals, etc. may give you an itsy bitsy bump. Especially if you're trying to get into all these great schools, you'll need every bit of help you can get.

bp shinners
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby bp shinners » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:12 pm

I would skip the former-coach/current co-coach LoR.

GuyLafleur
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby GuyLafleur » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:39 pm

I'm going to try getting a second reference letter from a professor, but it's bit of a struggle right now.

Also, for your evaluators, do they also have to be academics? Or can I use my former teacher/coach and my employer as evaluators?

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ManoftheHour
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby ManoftheHour » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:43 pm

Cicero76 wrote:In 98% of cases, LORs don't matter at all anyway. So worries about them aren't much use.


This. Typing my stats into mhttp://www.mylsn.info/, I "overperformed" last cycle. I had 2 letters. One from my employer. One from a volunteer organization. None from any professor.

If LORs are all fluff, what's the difference between employer fluff vs academic fluff. Same shiza.

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ArtistOfManliness
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:45 pm

ManoftheHour wrote:
Cicero76 wrote:In 98% of cases, LORs don't matter at all anyway. So worries about them aren't much use.


This. Typing my stats into mhttp://www.mylsn.info/, I "overperformed" last cycle. I had 2 letters. One from my employer. One from a volunteer organization. None from any professor.

If LORs are all fluff, what's the difference between employer fluff vs academic fluff. Same shiza.


Overperformed in what category of schools?

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ManoftheHour
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby ManoftheHour » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:46 pm

ArtistOfManliness wrote:
ManoftheHour wrote:
Cicero76 wrote:In 98% of cases, LORs don't matter at all anyway. So worries about them aren't much use.


This. Typing my stats into mhttp://www.mylsn.info/, I "overperformed" last cycle. I had 2 letters. One from my employer. One from a volunteer organization. None from any professor.

If LORs are all fluff, what's the difference between employer fluff vs academic fluff. Same shiza.


Overperformed in what category of schools?


T-25 and T-20 acceptances. Not saying it's anything to brag about, but when you type my stats in, I should be rejected throughout.

Ti Malice
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby Ti Malice » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:04 pm

GuyLafleur wrote:I'm going to try getting a second reference letter from a professor, but it's bit of a struggle right now.

Also, for your evaluators, do they also have to be academics? Or can I use my former teacher/coach and my employer as evaluators?


Unless expressly required (and I don't know of any school that requires them), don't bother with evaluations. Stick to LORs.

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ArtistOfManliness
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:28 pm

ManoftheHour wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:
ManoftheHour wrote:
Cicero76 wrote:In 98% of cases, LORs don't matter at all anyway. So worries about them aren't much use.


This. Typing my stats into mhttp://www.mylsn.info/, I "overperformed" last cycle. I had 2 letters. One from my employer. One from a volunteer organization. None from any professor.

If LORs are all fluff, what's the difference between employer fluff vs academic fluff. Same shiza.


Overperformed in what category of schools?


T-25 and T-20 acceptances. Not saying it's anything to brag about, but when you type my stats in, I should be rejected throughout.


Fair enough... just wanted to make sure someone wasn't going to make a decision about T6 based on TTT

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ManoftheHour
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby ManoftheHour » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:46 pm

ArtistOfManliness wrote:
Fair enough... just wanted to make sure someone wasn't going to make a decision about T6 based on TTT


For all it's worth, Cicero is a YLS man if I recall. And even he's saying for most people, LORs aren't important. I think they're really a lot like personal statements. They won't make your case, but they can destroy it if they're really shitty. Mostly everyone will have "fluff" letters. The important takeaway is just do well on the LSAT. First and foremost, hard numbers are what all schools are after.

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Cicero76
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Re: How many of your LORs need to be from profs?

Postby Cicero76 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:38 am

ManoftheHour wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:
Fair enough... just wanted to make sure someone wasn't going to make a decision about T6 based on TTT


For all it's worth, Cicero is a YLS man if I recall. And even he's saying for most people, LORs aren't important. I think they're really a lot like personal statements. They won't make your case, but they can destroy it if they're really shitty. Mostly everyone will have "fluff" letters. The important takeaway is just do well on the LSAT. First and foremost, hard numbers are what all schools are after.


You're absolutely right. One each end of the spectrum, LORs can be absurdly important. My stats alone shouldn't have gotten me anywhere near Yale, especially as a KJD--it was due in large part to my recommendations. Your overperformance may also have come from spectacular recs (though as non-academic ones they hold more weight at a T20 than a T6).

Most people are middle of the pack though. Their LORs say they're great students, hard workers, great writers, etc. And I expect adcomms glance at them, yawn, and then look for their LSAT and GPA.

EDIT: And obviously a terrible LOR probably means an auto-ding, but hopefully people whose letters say "so and so got a B in my class and volunteered to answer questions a few times. He's very nice and friendly" don't hang around TLS.

Actually, that's not even a terrible LOR. Bad enough to sink you would have to be "so and so cheated in my class and can't write his way out of a paper bag."




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