LOR advice: who to ask?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:27 pm

LOR advice: who to ask?

Postby needsmoreseasoning » Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:58 pm

Long-time lurker here. Currently finishing last semester, graduate in June 2015. Picking out my classes in the next two weeks and want to get some feedback. I have a double major, one humanities and one social sciences, the latter of which is already completed. I want to have one LOR from each major and plan to contact the profs sometime in May. I will be applying in autumn 2015.

How important is it that both LORs come from profs that have known me for a long time? I have one prof in mind who has taught me since 2010, for the major I'm still working on this semester to finish. For the completed major, I feel like barely any of my profs know me at all (big public school) or remember me.

Option 1:
Prof A is a dept head of a related dept, has known me for 2-ish years now, supervised one of the papers I presented (two years ago) and supervised research for another semester (unrelated topics) last year. He has a course this semester that I have room and time for, BUT it is regarding a very specific topic on a somewhat obscure country, that I really TBH do not have much interest in. I can take it and say it adds to "regional depth" in my research, but honestly, it's like an American studies major taking a course on 18th-century Mexican literature in the last semester of a BA, kinda random. I cannot make it to his office hours this semester either and I really have little background on said topic of the class. Yet, in our previous research class he constantly told me my work exceeded many of his PhD students, but all my work with him has been pretty much one on one, so I don't know how clear of a comparison that is.

Option 2:
Get another professor from one of the new courses this semester. The courses will be more recent and much more relevant to my major and area of research. Cons would be that the profs would only know me for one semester, contingent that I do well in the classes.

Option 3:
Get Prof A to write a letter anyway without taking the course this semester. The last time we communicated was nearly 8 months ago and he has many students, I doubt he will remember much of our work and his commentary from last time. I feel as though he would remember me better and perhaps write a better letter if I take another class with him this semester.

This is long.
TL;DR: How important is it that BOTH LORs come from profs that have known you for a long time (1+ years)? Would one LOR from a prof that will teach me for just 1 semester have enough emphasis? Can LOR make or break a splitter app at HCCN, or would that be more WE? Thank you. Happy New Year!


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Re: LOR advice: who to ask?

Postby zugzwanger » Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:21 am

I remember getting the max amount of LORs for my applications (can't recall what it was at the time) and I think only one of them came from a professor I knew longer than a semester. If they like you/know you, I would think you would be fine and that it's not something to overthink. They probably do it often.


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Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:28 am

Re: LOR advice: who to ask?

Postby BillsFan9907 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:23 am

Go with 1 and 3, take another course with 3. For a splitter, anything obviously helps. There is no formula for why one splitter gets in over the other. The best thing to do is not be a splitter (I assume you already are though?)

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malleus discentium

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Re: LOR advice: who to ask?

Postby malleus discentium » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:15 am

Do you have another professor from the first major who could write you a good LOR? Schools will give zero fucks about having one from each major, if they even notice.

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