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I know letters of recommendation can make or break an admission offer sometimes. I want to be sure I can get some great letters... however, I always feel awkward trying to "click" with the few professors that I have had for classes repeatedly. A few of them have written letters for me before for other things already, so I'm hoping that they'll be willing to do me the favor again when I'm applying to law school.
Should I be making the extra effort to stop by their office hours and small talk and such at least once or twice through the semester when I don't have them for class? I always feel weird doing that unless there is a real class/schoolwork/academic issue at hand that I can go in with. I guess I feel like I'm forcing a relationship or something just to get a favor later on.
Don't get me wrong though, the profs. that I have somewhat "clicked" with are people whose work I really admire. It's more of my self-consciousness that I need to get over.
What do you suggest I do to keep maintaining good relationships with a few profs for recommendations later on? Also, what's the best way to ask for a letter? What else should you include besides perhaps a resume and a transcript for them to reference in writing a letter? Does a thank you card suffice afterward?
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- Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:41 am
Sign up for office hours or make an appointment. Never just "drop by." Unless you're at a liberal arts college that is especially academic-community friendly, faculty dislike it when students just show up . It shows a disregard for their time.
Tell them about your plans to go to law school early on. Ask their advice on the best classes in their department given your interest in x, etc. If the faculty member is giving a talk on campus, or something like that, make sure that you are in attendance. If you write a thesis, ask them to advise you.
Maximize your opportunities for meaningful intellectual interaction with these people. Don't waste their time. show an interest in serious scholarship. Give them plenty of time to write the letter when the time comes, and you will be in a great place to get a great letter!
Best of luck.
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- Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:21 am
You will not be the first student who needs a LOR who has been stopping by their office and will not be the last. Build a relationship with them and then ask for a LOR - go into it with the understanding that you are in part motivated by attaining a good LOR, but you will find that you will enjoy other aspects of the interaction as well.
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EDIT: Maybe humanities profs need students to grade essays, etc. Or even proof-read and fact-check their own research papers.
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Also, you need to get used to this in life. You will find yourself emailing alums etc "for coffee" to get a job and what have you. I hate "networking" but that's how the world works
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- Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:16 pm
neimanmarxist and pankun are giving advice that is spot-on. I just wanted to add that the best way to get very good letters is to do research for a professor. A lot of institutions have paid and unpaid undergrad research opportunities. DO THIS. Humanities professors always need library-monkeys, copyeditors, and folk to do clerical work. Doing research for a professor will get them to support you far more than taking a class, writing good papers, and being a "good student." If your school doesn't have a formal undergrad research program, I'd suggest asking a professor at the end of a quarter where you've done exceptionally well if they have any research you can attach yourself to.
The only big caveat is that you NEED to take your research opportunity seriously. More seriously than you take your classes. There is nothing that pisses me off more than a student who signs up to work for me and then, after I've spent several hours training them in research methods, gives up because they found something more exciting to do with their time. That might be the only circumstance under which I would write somebody a bad LOR (although honestly I'd just tell them to get the LOR from soebody else - but other professors might have a different sense of ethics).
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