Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

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paglababa
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Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

Postby paglababa » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:15 pm

Hi all,

A professor has agreed to write a letter of rec for me. She's requested a resume and for me to provide her with some things I would like her to highlight in his letter. What should I tell her? I've been reading the letter of rec advice on TLS. I guess asking her to highlight my academic achievements and skill sets valuable to law school (writing, analysis, reasoning, & curiosity?) are a good start? The class itself was very interesting in that it was a business (management) capstone course very heavy on strategic decision making. It was also very team-oriented/communication heavy so I will tell her to highlight those presentation skills.

Any suggestions for what else I should suggest she absolutely incorporate?

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

Re: Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

Postby Ti Malice » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:07 pm

paglababa wrote:I guess asking her to highlight my academic achievements and skill sets valuable to law school (writing, analysis, reasoning, & curiosity?) are a good start?


That would be more than a good start. Her assessment of your academic / intellectual ability is far and away the most important element of the letter. All of the other stuff is fine too, though I would have her focus much more heavily on your writing and analytical abilities than on your teamwork and presentation skills. The latter skills don't have much of anything to do with performing well in law school.

It basically goes without saying, but the more concrete and precise she can be in discussing your talent and performance, the better. "Top student in the class," "best student I taught last year," and "one of the most gifted students I've taught during my entire career" are all better than "very strong student" and the like.

bp shinners
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

Postby bp shinners » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:29 pm

Ti Malice wrote:That would be more than a good start. Her assessment of your academic / intellectual ability is far and away the most important element of the letter. All of the other stuff is fine too, though I would have her focus much more heavily on your writing and analytical abilities than on your teamwork and presentation skills. The latter skills don't have much of anything to do with performing well in law school.

It basically goes without saying, but the more concrete and precise she can be in discussing your talent and performance, the better. "Top student in the class," "best student I taught last year," and "one of the most gifted students I've taught during my entire career" are all better than "very strong student" and the like.


I disagree a bit. If she's the only one who can talk about your teamwork and presentation skills, I would get them in there. If every letter of recommendation reads like mere puffery, they're going to just roll off the admissions committees backs. If she's talking about specifics related to the skills, we will come across as more genuine.

You don't want somebody who just says "this was the best students I taught last year" because that's like an ad stating "fun for all ages!" - it doesn't mean much. You want the professor to mention specifics which let the person reading your letter now that you were a person in the mind of the Prof., not just another student.

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

Re: Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

Postby Ti Malice » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:26 am

bp shinners wrote:
Ti Malice wrote:That would be more than a good start. Her assessment of your academic / intellectual ability is far and away the most important element of the letter. All of the other stuff is fine too, though I would have her focus much more heavily on your writing and analytical abilities than on your teamwork and presentation skills. The latter skills don't have much of anything to do with performing well in law school.

It basically goes without saying, but the more concrete and precise she can be in discussing your talent and performance, the better. "Top student in the class," "best student I taught last year," and "one of the most gifted students I've taught during my entire career" are all better than "very strong student" and the like.


I disagree a bit. If she's the only one who can talk about your teamwork and presentation skills, I would get them in there. If every letter of recommendation reads like mere puffery, they're going to just roll off the admissions committees backs. If she's talking about specifics related to the skills, we will come across as more genuine.

You don't want somebody who just says "this was the best students I taught last year" because that's like an ad stating "fun for all ages!" - it doesn't mean much. You want the professor to mention specifics which let the person reading your letter now that you were a person in the mind of the Prof., not just another student.


On the first point, I'm not saying that she should leave out the teamwork and presentation skills stuff. It's just a question of emphasis: I don't think it should be the focal point of her skills evaluation.

On the second point, I'm not at all suggesting that the recommender should not include further detail. But to the extent law schools care about LORs at all (and very few do), credible and very positive evaluations of an applicant's academic skills relative to other students, even in more general terms, carry a lot of weight. Asha has given several examples of LORs that she regards as especially effective, and the parts she dwells on are invariably those that read something like: "X is one of the two or three most intellectually gifted students I've taught in my 25 years as a professor at X, Y, and Z. The essays she submitted for this course would have been exceptional work even in one of my advanced graduate seminars." The LOR shouldn't stop there, but there are some very effective LORs that include this type of statement and not all that much other detail.

bp shinners
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

Postby bp shinners » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:16 am

Ti Malice wrote:Asha has given several examples of LORs that she regards as especially effective, and the parts she dwells on are invariably those that read something like: "X is one of the two or three most intellectually gifted students I've taught in my 25 years as a professor at X, Y, and Z. The essays she submitted for this course would have been exceptional work even in one of my advanced graduate seminars." The LOR shouldn't stop there, but there are some very effective LORs that include this type of statement and not all that much other detail.


I think you're referring to http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... ation.aspx

A few points I'd bring up:
1) Those statements aren't just saying that the person was the best student. They're saying that they are one of the best students the professor has ever taught. Most people can't get that letter of recommendation.
2) Those are statements taken out of context. I absolutely refuse to believe that there is "not all that much other detail." I would bet a lot of money on those letters including significant detail to back up the claims highlighted in that blog post.

gobosox
Posts: 240
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:28 pm

Re: Professor would like to know what to highlight in letter

Postby gobosox » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:19 pm

Give lots of stories.

That's way better than anything else.




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