Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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iiibbystar
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Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby iiibbystar » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:09 pm

Hi all,

I am having an issue with getting a decent letter of recommendation from my professor. I was wondering if I could get some feedback or help on how to go about this. I graduated from college last year, and have just started asking my professors for letters of recommendations (I know, I should've timed it better). I had asked one of the professors I took 6 classes with in college to write me a strong letter of rec. I took several small seminar classes with her and excelled in all of them so I thought she would be able to give detailed insight into my abilities as a student. She sent me a draft of her letter to check for grammar errors, and I was horrified to find that it is very generic and basically outlines the classes I took with her, and what I did for each class. There was nothing personal about it, and I would even dare to say that it was not well written. She asked me to review it before she sends it out on Monday, but I don't think I would even consider using this letter. I would like to ask her to revise it and include more personal details, and exclude the info that anyone could find on my transcript. But, she's been kind enough to write me a letter, and I don't want to sound pushy or rude. Is there any way I could politely ask her to adjust the letter and make it better? What can I do in this situation? This is really stressing me out because this whole time I thought she would be one of my stronger recommenders. It's discouraging, and I'm really worried. Please help!
Last edited by iiibbystar on Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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wtrc
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby wtrc » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:18 pm

It's good to not sound rude... But you gotta look out for yourself. I would talk to her, tell her how competitive law school is and how they really value personal letters, and while you feel weird asking her this... Does she mind including X.

Absolute worst case: she thinks you're a jerk. Probably wont happen.

Also, btw, even if she sends it in, you choose what letters to send to schools (almost sure-can someone confirm?). If you never use it, she never will know.

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2x2Matrix
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby 2x2Matrix » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:46 pm

Agree with wtr - you need to push back and give her an outline of key points/details you'd like her to include. If she doesn't listen, you don't have to assign her letter to any applications, and she will probably never find out - though you will need to find another reference in that case.

Void
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby Void » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:58 pm

Sounds like a standard rec letter. I think you're over thinking this. Admissions committees really don't care about these things. As long as it doesn't say "OP is a fucking moron" then it's fine and will make no difference at all to your admissions cycle.

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ManoftheHour
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby ManoftheHour » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:01 am

Unless you're gunning for and are competitive for HYS, LeTTTers of recommendation are TTT.

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ManoftheHour
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby ManoftheHour » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:02 am

Void wrote:Sounds like a standard rec letter. I think you're over thinking this. Admissions committees really don't care about these things. As long as it doesn't say "OP is a fucking moron" then it's fine and will make no difference at all to your admissions cycle.

TITCR

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haus
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby haus » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:08 am

ManoftheHour wrote:
Void wrote:Sounds like a standard rec letter. I think you're over thinking this. Admissions committees really don't care about these things. As long as it doesn't say "OP is a fucking moron" then it's fine and will make no difference at all to your admissions cycle.

TITCR

Ti Malice
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:26 am

Void wrote:Sounds like a standard rec letter. I think you're over thinking this. Admissions committees really don't care about these things. As long as it doesn't say "OP is a fucking moron" then it's fine and will make no difference at all to your admissions cycle.


Quick check of posting history shows that OP is planning to apply to YHS, so this really isn't correct. LORs are extremely important for YLS, and they matter a great deal for SLS too. If OP is applying to Berkeley, this kind of LOR will hurt. HLS will care much less than these three, but LORs aren't completely insignificant there either.

Void
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby Void » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:28 am

Ti Malice wrote:
Void wrote:Sounds like a standard rec letter. I think you're over thinking this. Admissions committees really don't care about these things. As long as it doesn't say "OP is a fucking moron" then it's fine and will make no difference at all to your admissions cycle.


Quick check of posting history shows that OP is planning to apply to YHS, so this really isn't correct. LORs are extremely important for YLS, and they matter a great deal for SLS too. If OP is applying to Berkeley, this kind of LOR will hurt. HLS will care much less than these three, but LORs aren't completely insignificant there either.


I didn't bother to check posting history because I'm not a weirdo. But good catch, weirdo.

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iiibbystar
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby iiibbystar » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:17 am

Thank you, everyone, for your responses. I understand that law schools don't put as much emphasis on your letters of recommendations as they do on your LSAT/ GPA, but I still feel that the letter my professor wrote could hurt me, even if it doesn't necessary say anything negative. I will take some of the advice in this thread and speak with her to explain how I feel about it. Thank you for your input!

UnderrateOverachieve
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:18 am

ManoftheHour wrote:Unless you're gunning for and are competitive for HYS, LeTTTers of recommendation are TTT.


I normally don't agree with with this type of comment. But, absolutely spot on. Asha (Yale) says that your letters of rec should reek of amazing.

Everyone else seems to want to make sure you are a human person and not a robot. That is about it.

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haus
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby haus » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:26 am

UnderrateOverachieve wrote:
ManoftheHour wrote:Unless you're gunning for and are competitive for HYS, LeTTTers of recommendation are TTT.


I normally don't agree with with this type of comment. But, absolutely spot on. Asha (Yale) says that your letters of rec should reek of amazing.

Everyone else seems to want to make sure you are a human person and not a robot. That is about it.


Poor Mr. Roboto...

UnderrateOverachieve
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:48 am

haus wrote:
UnderrateOverachieve wrote:
ManoftheHour wrote:Unless you're gunning for and are competitive for HYS, LeTTTers of recommendation are TTT.


I normally don't agree with with this type of comment. But, absolutely spot on. Asha (Yale) says that your letters of rec should reek of amazing.

Everyone else seems to want to make sure you are a human person and not a robot. That is about it.


Poor Mr. Roboto...


He just wasn't made for law man, it will be okay.

bp shinners
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby bp shinners » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:03 pm

2x2Matrix wrote:Agree with wtr - you need to push back and give her an outline of key points/details you'd like her to include. If she doesn't listen, you don't have to assign her letter to any applications, and she will probably never find out - though you will need to find another reference in that case.


Yep, if this is a letter you got, you failed in the initial pitch to get her to write the letter. Whenever I have a student talk to a professor about a letter of rec, I always make sure that they bring a cover letter to leave behind that mentions a few qualities they want the professor to write about. You don't want to say, "Please tell them that I am X, Y, and Z". However, you want to say things like how much you enjoyed participating in class discussions and how you really had a chance to flex your writing and research muscles during that final paper. Doing this will prime the professor to write about those qualities.

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howlery
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby howlery » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:37 pm

It sounds like you're expecting a YLS-style "this is the best student I've ever had in my entire life, I am certain that he/she is the reincarnation of the Buddha" kind of letter. Have you considered the possibility that you weren't that kind of student?

As long as the letter isn't explicitly negative, you're GPA/LSAT will continue to have the only real impact on your cycle.

UnderrateOverachieve
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:06 pm

howlery wrote:It sounds like you're expecting a YLS-style "this is the best student I've ever had in my entire life, I am certain that he/she is the reincarnation of the Buddha" kind of letter. Have you considered the possibility that you weren't that kind of student?

As long as the letter isn't explicitly negative, you're GPA/LSAT will continue to have the only real impact on your cycle.

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Bad Letter of Recommendation--what to do?

Postby Dr. Dre » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:43 am

GPA/LSAT/URM status




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