Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

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echoplasm
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Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby echoplasm » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:37 pm

Hi everyone, I am wondering if it's wise to ask the professor in a class you did poorly in to write a sort of "addendum/recommendation" explaining that the student did in fact try their best, that they constantly went to office hours for help and did all their homework, etc., but in the end, the course was simply not one of their strong strengths?

I did very badly in an upper-level math course, and I feel like the blemish needs to be explained? (Rest assured, I am no longer taking any more math.. not for me)

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midwest17
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Re: Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby midwest17 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:48 pm

echoplasm wrote:Hi everyone, I am wondering if it's wise to ask the professor in a class you did poorly in to write a sort of "addendum/recommendation" explaining that the student did in fact try their best, that they constantly went to office hours for help and did all their homework, etc., but in the end, the course was simply not one of their strong strengths?

I did very badly in an upper-level math course, and I feel like the blemish needs to be explained? (Rest assured, I am no longer taking any more math.. not for me)


Don't do this. You don't want to emphasize the weak parts of your application unless you have a good and unique explanation for them. "The material wasn't one of my strengths" doesn't qualify. This is especially true for LORs: they should be from profs who can say good things about you. "He/she tried really hard but just couldn't grasp the material" won't come out in a positive way in an LOR. As it is, the low grade will only matter because of its impact on your cumulative GPA. Such a letter won't help you outperform your numbers, and could make you underperform.

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phillywc
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Re: Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby phillywc » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:51 pm

100% agreeded with midwest, despite the fact that he has ANOTHER creepy avatar.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:53 pm

I really don't think this will help you. There's no extra credit for effort. And I'm not sure that it makes you look better to explain that even though you tried really really hard and did all the work you bombed the class - in essence that's like arguing that you're not lazy, you're just stupid.

(Note: I don't mean that you actually are lazy or stupid, but it seems those are the alternative explanations for a poor grade, and why draw attention to either one?)

echoplasm
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Re: Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby echoplasm » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:20 pm

This would apply even to cases where the professor could verify that the course was one of the hardest in the department, right?

(Note: I don't mean that you actually are lazy or stupid, but it seems those are the alternative explanations for a poor grade, and why draw attention to either one?)


True; although I have realized I am stupid at abstract math proofs :|

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midwest17
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Re: Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby midwest17 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:28 pm

echoplasm wrote:This would apply even to cases where the professor could verify that the course was one of the hardest in the department, right?

(Note: I don't mean that you actually are lazy or stupid, but it seems those are the alternative explanations for a poor grade, and why draw attention to either one?)


True; although I have realized I am stupid at abstract math proofs :|


What was the course called? I'm guessing that adcoms will be able to recognize that it's an advanced math class, and you'll get whatever slack you're going to get without a letter (which won't be much: schools will still be primarily concerned with your overall GPA). If you're super concerned you could write an addendum, but I wouldn't recommend it. I just don't see this as the sort of thing that warrants using an LOR on.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Asking professor to write a letter about low grade

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:50 pm

echoplasm wrote:This would apply even to cases where the professor could verify that the course was one of the hardest in the department, right?

Yes. I mean, what would you have the professor say? It was a hard class and echoplasm did badly? Presumably there were people who didn't do badly in the class, and it was your own choice to take the class. Like midwest said, adcomms will be able to tell it was an advanced class.

Put another way: the only good reason for writing an addendum is to explain some circumstance outside of your control that affected your performance. I was going through chemo that semester, my family became homeless and we were living in a van that semester, that kind of thing. Choosing to take a hard class in a subject you're not good at is not a circumstance outside your control.




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