LOR Advice

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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mwells56
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LOR Advice

Postby mwells56 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:43 pm

Coming up on the end of my junior year so I'm trying to narrow down my list of professors to ask for LORs.

I haven't gotten super close with very many of my professors over the years so I'm a little stuck. The one I definitely want to ask is my current Latin professor, I'm killing it in her class, gotten the 1st/2nd best grade on both tests so far. She's very nice but doesn't really have much of a filter and is constantly talking to students on an uncomfortably-personal level, (i.e., Student X you really need to work on this, Student Y I looked at your homework and you got this wrong, Student Z you did a wonderful job on this, etc.), so I know she thinks extremely highly of me.
My reservations are that she's not a native English speaker and sometimes struggles to get out the exact meaning of what she's saying, and that she's kind of a ditz. She's always making little mistakes, not noticing, and when we point them out she gets all apologetic and a little flustered. I'm afraid she'd have some typos or say something weird. Overall though I feel like she's a good choice.

After that I'm a little lost. I don't want to ask any of my professors from last semester because the only two that I would say know me well are 1) a Latin grad student who really liked me but I'd rather not use two Latin classes and 2) an extremely well-known philosophy prof who I'm pretty sure liked me but I didn't do too hot in his class (B).

There's one grad student from my sophomore year who I got really close with, got an A in her class, and still have conversations with whenever I run into her. I know she'd write an awesome letter for me but I don't know how schools view grad students vs. actual professors? This wasn't a class where there's an instructor and then a grad student who leads discussions, however, this was 100% her class. Also, I feel like asking someone from my sophomore year instead of this year is weak as well (at least this is what I remember being told when I was applying to undergrad, not sure if this holds for law school).

I'm also currently in a class with a grad student who graduated from Yale Law and is now pursuing a PhD. He definitely likes me but, again, not sure what the deal is with asking grad students. This is a class with an actual professor as the instructor and the grad student is the grader/leads discussion sections. But on the other hand, he did graduate from Yale Law so maybe his recommendation would carry some clout?

There's one more class where both the professor and grad student like me because I participate a lot, but the only paper we've had so far I got a B on (TBH I thought I deserved a much higher grade for that paper, but whatever).

What do you guys think?

tinyvessels
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Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 9:05 pm

Re: LOR Advice

Postby tinyvessels » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:17 pm

Okay, first of all, I would def. ask your Latin professor for a recommendation. She might make mistakes/obvious typos in class, but this an official recommendation being sent to faculty/an admissions committee of a law school, so I think, in theory, she should be more careful. Also, I feel like I would rather have a recommendation that had great content about me versus one that was lukewarm, but, let's say, had better sentence structure/grammar.

I personally would NOT use grad students - only as a last resort tbh. I think some schools actually have a requirement that the recommendations must come from faculty. Grad students, wouldn't be considered faculty in that case, I would assume. This is very school specific, so make sure you call/check the website for each one you plan to apply to.

Are there any other professors whose class you did well in, went to office hours, etc? If not can you try making connections with professors before the end of this year in the classes you are doing well in now, and perhaps ask them at the end of the year/this summer?

I just saw the last part of your post about the class you are currently taking. Make sure to try and ace everything else, it might makeup for your B on your paper, and land you a better grade. Make sure to go to their office hours, especially the professors, and strike up conversations in order to build a relationship before the year is out. This professor could potentially be a good source for a recommendation. It's good to have three to four potential names, with two at least accepting your request to write a rec.

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mwells56
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Re: LOR Advice

Postby mwells56 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:26 pm

Not that the advice above wasn't helpful but I'm bumping this to try and get a wider diversity of opinions

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chasima
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Re: LOR Advice

Postby chasima » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:53 pm

I agree with everything the above poster said except for the part about grad students. If they know you really well, and have gotten an opportunity to see your academic work and vouch for it, I definitely think that it's ok to use them. One of my recommenders was a grad student who knows me and my work ethic/academic potential pretty well, and I don't think it's hurt me at all.

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mwells56
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Re: LOR Advice

Postby mwells56 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:58 pm

chasima wrote:I agree with everything the above poster said except for the part about grad students. If they know you really well, and have gotten an opportunity to see your academic work and vouch for it, I definitely think that it's ok to use them. One of my recommenders was a grad student who knows me and my work ethic/academic potential pretty well, and I don't think it's hurt me at all.


Thanks, appreciate it!

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mwells56
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Re: LOR Advice

Postby mwells56 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:59 pm

tinyvessels wrote:Okay, first of all, I would def. ask your Latin professor for a recommendation. She might make mistakes/obvious typos in class, but this an official recommendation being sent to faculty/an admissions committee of a law school, so I think, in theory, she should be more careful. Also, I feel like I would rather have a recommendation that had great content about me versus one that was lukewarm, but, let's say, had better sentence structure/grammar.

I personally would NOT use grad students - only as a last resort tbh. I think some schools actually have a requirement that the recommendations must come from faculty. Grad students, wouldn't be considered faculty in that case, I would assume. This is very school specific, so make sure you call/check the website for each one you plan to apply to.

Are there any other professors whose class you did well in, went to office hours, etc? If not can you try making connections with professors before the end of this year in the classes you are doing well in now, and perhaps ask them at the end of the year/this summer?

I just saw the last part of your post about the class you are currently taking. Make sure to try and ace everything else, it might makeup for your B on your paper, and land you a better grade. Make sure to go to their office hours, especially the professors, and strike up conversations in order to build a relationship before the year is out. This professor could potentially be a good source for a recommendation. It's good to have three to four potential names, with two at least accepting your request to write a rec.


I looked at a couple places and the only requirement I saw was "faculty", but grad students are university faculty, right?

tinyvessels
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 9:05 pm

Re: LOR Advice

Postby tinyvessels » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:04 pm

mwells56 wrote:
tinyvessels wrote:Okay, first of all, I would def. ask your Latin professor for a recommendation. She might make mistakes/obvious typos in class, but this an official recommendation being sent to faculty/an admissions committee of a law school, so I think, in theory, she should be more careful. Also, I feel like I would rather have a recommendation that had great content about me versus one that was lukewarm, but, let's say, had better sentence structure/grammar.

I personally would NOT use grad students - only as a last resort tbh. I think some schools actually have a requirement that the recommendations must come from faculty. Grad students, wouldn't be considered faculty in that case, I would assume. This is very school specific, so make sure you call/check the website for each one you plan to apply to.

Are there any other professors whose class you did well in, went to office hours, etc? If not can you try making connections with professors before the end of this year in the classes you are doing well in now, and perhaps ask them at the end of the year/this summer?

I just saw the last part of your post about the class you are currently taking. Make sure to try and ace everything else, it might makeup for your B on your paper, and land you a better grade. Make sure to go to their office hours, especially the professors, and strike up conversations in order to build a relationship before the year is out. This professor could potentially be a good source for a recommendation. It's good to have three to four potential names, with two at least accepting your request to write a rec.


I looked at a couple places and the only requirement I saw was "faculty", but grad students are university faculty, right?


Like I said, this is very school specific. Personally, the grad students at my undergrad weren't considered faculty. They, number one, were still students, and number two, didn't have their PhDs yet. However, your undergrad may be different and considering your law schools, they may count grad students as faculty, so submitting recs from grad students of your choosing would be fine. I would probably be more concerned about upper t14s and HYS about their recommendation standards though, since they tend to me more stern about what they want their applicants to submit. I think you should be fine submitting from grad students if you really think those are the best recs you'll get, but I would just double check by either calling or emailing admissions of each school to be sure.

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mwells56
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Re: LOR Advice

Postby mwells56 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:24 pm

tinyvessels wrote:
mwells56 wrote:
tinyvessels wrote:Okay, first of all, I would def. ask your Latin professor for a recommendation. She might make mistakes/obvious typos in class, but this an official recommendation being sent to faculty/an admissions committee of a law school, so I think, in theory, she should be more careful. Also, I feel like I would rather have a recommendation that had great content about me versus one that was lukewarm, but, let's say, had better sentence structure/grammar.

I personally would NOT use grad students - only as a last resort tbh. I think some schools actually have a requirement that the recommendations must come from faculty. Grad students, wouldn't be considered faculty in that case, I would assume. This is very school specific, so make sure you call/check the website for each one you plan to apply to.

Are there any other professors whose class you did well in, went to office hours, etc? If not can you try making connections with professors before the end of this year in the classes you are doing well in now, and perhaps ask them at the end of the year/this summer?

I just saw the last part of your post about the class you are currently taking. Make sure to try and ace everything else, it might makeup for your B on your paper, and land you a better grade. Make sure to go to their office hours, especially the professors, and strike up conversations in order to build a relationship before the year is out. This professor could potentially be a good source for a recommendation. It's good to have three to four potential names, with two at least accepting your request to write a rec.


I looked at a couple places and the only requirement I saw was "faculty", but grad students are university faculty, right?


Like I said, this is very school specific. Personally, the grad students at my undergrad weren't considered faculty. They, number one, were still students, and number two, didn't have their PhDs yet. However, your undergrad may be different and considering your law schools, they may count grad students as faculty, so submitting recs from grad students of your choosing would be fine. I would probably be more concerned about upper t14s and HYS about their recommendation standards though, since they tend to me more stern about what they want their applicants to submit. I think you should be fine submitting from grad students if you really think those are the best recs you'll get, but I would just double check by either calling or emailing admissions of each school to be sure.


I don't remember exactly which one said which but I check Columbia, NYU, and Michigan (my top 3). One of them specifically said that grad students are fine and the other two didn't specify grad students vs. professors, just said faculty. I'll check with them and all the others before I pull the trigger though. Thanks!

tinyvessels
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 9:05 pm

Re: LOR Advice

Postby tinyvessels » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:25 pm

I mean, if they allow it, than you should be good to go. I'm just very paranoid, so I'm always in favor of double checking these things.

Anyway, I hope you get some great recs and have a good cycle next year. Good luck.




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