Who to have write LOR?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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nihility

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Who to have write LOR?

Postby nihility » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:49 am

I am having some trouble deciding who I should select for my LOR requests.

First, how many do I need?

I just graduated, but during my senior year I was in and out of the classroom, so I didn't really foster any substantial relationships with professors. When I think of my best class, where I received an A, loved the course, went to office hours, participated regularly in class discussion, I return to spring of freshman year, which was 2013. Consequently, here are my options:

1) The professor from the aforementioned course. He taught at my university for only a short time, but was an incredible professor. He went on to teach at Yale Law school for two years and just recently moved internationally. I have not stayed in touch with him, but I am confident he would remember me and have good things to say about me from the upper division philosophy class I took with him in 2013.

2) My supervisor during my Junior/Senior year at a startup. I worked in what can largely be considered a sales position and was a consistent top performer. This supervisor has expressed his willingness to write a sterling letter of recommendation for me for anything I might need it for. I am, however, quite certain he has never written one for law school admissions.

3) I am starting a position at a financial company very soon and know my soon-to-be supervisor outside of work. I could have substantial control over this letter, and it would be recent, but due to the quasi unprofessional relationship I have with this supervisor I worry about the tone it might ultimately have.

4) One of my best friends has told me his father, who I have met only a few times, would write a great letter for me. He is partner at Bryan Cave. I am relatively certain he has experience writing these letters, but the fact that I don't know this definitively should reveal the extent of my relationship with him. He knows very little about me.

5) Professor from semester abroad in Asia. I performed well in his class, but obviously was more interested in traveling than in getting to know him as a professor or increasing my involvement with the course material. I consider this one because it forces schools to acknowledge my diverse experiences, taking a Business course in Asia. Interestingly, the course was called "negotiations and bargaining."

6) Professor from Junior year upper division Business Operations course, universally considered one of the hardest in the major. I actually received an A- here, so not perfect, but this professor seemed to have an affinity toward me. I contributed to class a reasonable amount and visited office hours a couple times. I enjoyed the course and the material came to me naturally. He graduated from Yale and has a background in Philosophy which I remember discussing with him briefly. My reservation here is that I had an argument with him regarding my grade on a test. I do not think I handled it poorly, but he seemed to respond negatively to being challenged on it. He is extremely well spoken and brilliant in his field.

I think that sums up my feasible options. Who should be my priority? I lean toward 2, 1, and 6, in that order.
All counsel is appreciated!

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pterodactyls

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Re: Who to have write LOR?

Postby pterodactyls » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:26 am

My ranking:
1 -> 5 and/or 6 -> 2

I'd forget 3 and 4.

I guess it ultimately depends on the schools, but my understanding is that academic references are more valuable. Many applicants can get a letter from a supervisor saying they worked hard in a position. But the schools want to know what kind of student you'll be. A hard worker does not automatically mean a great student. They see an A on your transcript, but what does that mean? Did you have to work hard, or did everyone in the class get the same grade? A recommendation that says "Johnny went above and beyond in my course, etc. etc. details, he's a great writer, I rarely give out A's and the class average was an 85, but he was one of two students out of 60 to receive an A." is really valuable.

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Barack O'Drama

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Re: Who to have write LOR?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:29 am

pterodactyls wrote:My ranking:
1 -> 5 and/or 6 -> 2

I'd forget 3 and 4.

I guess it ultimately depends on the schools, but my understanding is that academic references are more valuable. Many applicants can get a letter from a supervisor saying they worked hard in a position. But the schools want to know what kind of student you'll be. A hard worker does not automatically mean a great student. They see an A on your transcript, but what does that mean? Did you have to work hard, or did everyone in the class get the same grade? A recommendation that says "Johnny went above and beyond in my course, etc. etc. details, he's a great writer, I rarely give out A's and the class average was an 85, but he was one of two students out of 60 to receive an A." is really valuable.



Yeah, that seems to make sense. 3 and 4 just don't seem like a better choice any way you slice or dice it.

Good luck, op!
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Blueprint Mithun

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Re: Who to have write LOR?

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:15 pm

nihility wrote:I am having some trouble deciding who I should select for my LOR requests.

First, how many do I need?

I just graduated, but during my senior year I was in and out of the classroom, so I didn't really foster any substantial relationships with professors. When I think of my best class, where I received an A, loved the course, went to office hours, participated regularly in class discussion, I return to spring of freshman year, which was 2013. Consequently, here are my options:

1) The professor from the aforementioned course. He taught at my university for only a short time, but was an incredible professor. He went on to teach at Yale Law school for two years and just recently moved internationally. I have not stayed in touch with him, but I am confident he would remember me and have good things to say about me from the upper division philosophy class I took with him in 2013.

2) My supervisor during my Junior/Senior year at a startup. I worked in what can largely be considered a sales position and was a consistent top performer. This supervisor has expressed his willingness to write a sterling letter of recommendation for me for anything I might need it for. I am, however, quite certain he has never written one for law school admissions.

3) I am starting a position at a financial company very soon and know my soon-to-be supervisor outside of work. I could have substantial control over this letter, and it would be recent, but due to the quasi unprofessional relationship I have with this supervisor I worry about the tone it might ultimately have.

4) One of my best friends has told me his father, who I have met only a few times, would write a great letter for me. He is partner at Bryan Cave. I am relatively certain he has experience writing these letters, but the fact that I don't know this definitively should reveal the extent of my relationship with him. He knows very little about me.

5) Professor from semester abroad in Asia. I performed well in his class, but obviously was more interested in traveling than in getting to know him as a professor or increasing my involvement with the course material. I consider this one because it forces schools to acknowledge my diverse experiences, taking a Business course in Asia. Interestingly, the course was called "negotiations and bargaining."

6) Professor from Junior year upper division Business Operations course, universally considered one of the hardest in the major. I actually received an A- here, so not perfect, but this professor seemed to have an affinity toward me. I contributed to class a reasonable amount and visited office hours a couple times. I enjoyed the course and the material came to me naturally. He graduated from Yale and has a background in Philosophy which I remember discussing with him briefly. My reservation here is that I had an argument with him regarding my grade on a test. I do not think I handled it poorly, but he seemed to respond negatively to being challenged on it. He is extremely well spoken and brilliant in his field.

I think that sums up my feasible options. Who should be my priority? I lean toward 2, 1, and 6, in that order.
All counsel is appreciated!



Academic recommendations are definitely more valuable than work-related ones. You really want two of your recommendations to definitely be from professors, as schools are most interested in reading these to get an account of what you're like as a student. The prestige of the letter writer doesn't count for anything. So I'd pick 2 people out of 1,5, and 6. Even if you haven't talked to #1 in a while, it doesn't hurt to reach out and try.

A letter from an employer can be useful if you've been out of school for a while, or have worked for someone for a long time. So it wouldn't hurt to get a third letter from #2, and submit that to schools that accept more than 2 letters.

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nihility

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Re: Who to have write LOR?

Postby nihility » Fri Jun 17, 2016 2:29 am

Ok thanks for the input!

Should I get this process started as soon as possible? Even if I do not intend to go to law school until Fall 2018?

xnsch

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Re: Who to have write LOR?

Postby xnsch » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:29 pm

nihility wrote:Ok thanks for the input!

Should I get this process started as soon as possible? Even if I do not intend to go to law school until Fall 2018?


Definitely do. Recommendations are stronger the closer they are written to when a professor had you in a class. Professors soon forget and the ability for them to write on specific experiences they remember with you is a huge boost, so even if you aren't applying in the immediate future it's always good to get them as early as possible and have those out of the way. Plus the benefit is you won't have to scramble later on having to wait on your LORs to be able to submit your apps!



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