are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

Postby sandclock » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:26 am

I asked a professor if he could give me a letter of recommendation.
He agreed, saying that he would be happy to recommend me as I was the best student in the class.
I actually had done continuously well in the class- i had bonus points left over from a perfect score, I lead a debate to win, I received great peer evaluation.
I told him the procedures but he said he had no problem with showing me a copy of the LOR before he sent it.
So today, I read it but the problem with it in my perspective was that it was too general.
I took the class last year so maybe the time gap was a problem but the content wasn't very detailed. He basically said 'She is a great student. I recommend her.' but which LOR doesn't say that?
He said I wrote good essays etc. and included the things i did well but to me, the points seemed too vague and read suspiciously, it could be read that the professor didn't actually remember me since my good points weren't emphasized persuasively enough. I actually thought he would be the best professor to write me a strong LOR since my actual performance reflected it, so this is quite disappointing. To me I wasn't really persuaded by my own recommendation so I'm worried it might seem to be just bullshit by the law schools.
I've never actually read a really good LOR so I'm not sure if this is a problem with all LORs or if it's a problem with me. The professor prepared all of the envelopes and forms so I don't think I can request an editing. I don't think he has had much experience with writing LORs so this might also be a reason but there's nothing i can do about that.
Is this a weak LOR or is this what all LORs are like? Should I look for a different LOR instead of this one?
I'm shooting for HYS and my softs aren't very strong so i think i will need a good LOR.
Oh and another question: the professor thought it would be a good idea to include a persuasive prose I wrote in the class and we included it- is this a good idea?

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Re: are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

Postby butt-head » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:46 am

Last edited by butt-head on Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

Postby Ti Malice » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:02 am

butt-head wrote:don't worry about it too much though. it will most likely have no impact on your cycle.

Since the poster is aiming for YHS, this isn't very good advice.

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Re: are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

Postby xylocarp » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:40 am

Just giving my two cents that no, not all LORs are general. In high school, there was this one teacher who was known for her over-the-top recommendations. My friend's said that the teacher "fully expected" she would win a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and/or a Grammy (??) and a ton of other crazy compliments, along with specific examples that made her sound truly exceptional. I don't know if that's WHY, but she seriously overperformed in her college admissions.

Anyway, obviously that's super anecdotal, but my point is that recommendations do have the potential to be amazing. I think it might take a certain type of personality (I could have guessed the above teacher's affinity for hugely laudatory LORs after meeting her for 5 minutes), and I think it's fairly rare. So, I don't think it's a "problem with all LORs" but I also don't think it's a problem with you. Perhaps you can work with the professor to make it more specific? But in general, I think that only certain professors in the first place are ever going to write a really, really amazing LOR unless the student in question has done something ridiculously outstanding in the field in which they teach.

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Re: are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

Postby Ramius » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:50 am

Did you discuss with the recommender at all about your goals and the substance of the letter you were hoping for? Obviously you don't want to tell him what to write in any specific sense, but if you mention to him how you're trying to highlight certain things about yourself, he might be more inclined to write something more specific.

What you'll really want to do is think about whether or not this recommender is the right person to be writing your recommendation. Maybe there was a TA who can speak more substantively to your work or another professor who you impressed with your coursework? It could just be that this professor isn't easy to please and doesn't like to give out praise, whether verbal or in a recommendation. If the LOR is "meh" and you don't feel like it sheds the right light on your academic abilities, then you should absolutely find someone else to write one. If you're shooting for HYS, you will want the LOR to say more than this one likely does.

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Re: are all LORs so general or is mine weak?

Postby hephaestus » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:57 am

Do not worry so much about this. LORs have almost no weight in an application as long as they do not have any red flags, like directly saying a student is bad. Your LOR does not sound like it has any red flags.

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