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Author Topic: How well do you know your recommenders?  (Read 2858 times)

funny1x2

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How well do you know your recommenders?
« on: March 16, 2005, 08:43:03 PM »
I am going to be applying to schools this upcoming fall and want to get a head start on the whole process as early as possible.  I am really concerned about who to get recommendations from, though, and was wondering if some of you guys could provide me with a bit of insight. Specifically, as the title asks, how well do you know the professors who wrote your recommendations? I ask because although I am a good student (3.98 GPA, never skip more than 1 class a semester, join in discussions, etc.), I don't have many strong relationships with my professors.  I am planning on asking 2 teachers who I have had several classes with, but even those 2, who I am "closest" to, have talked with me outside of class 5 - maybe 8 - times total.

Is this really bad or is anyone else in a similar position? Does it really matter a huge amount if I keep my GPA where it is and do well (168+) on the LSAT?

Thanks!

dbgirl

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2005, 08:48:37 PM »
Hey funny ...
The pink font's a little hard to read.

If I were you I'd start becoming more friendly with your professors. I suppose that is harder if you go to a big school, but I think the better your recommender knows you, the better a recommendation they can write.
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ilsox7

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2005, 08:50:22 PM »
Numbers will get you into a lot of places.  A lot.  But not all.

As for recommenders, I count my 2 academic and 1 professional recommenders as both friend and mentors.  I went to a huge school and became close with 2 profs.  The nice thing about their LORs is that they were able to talk both about academic ability and personal characteristics.

ethelmag

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2005, 10:10:45 AM »
I've asked the same two professors for recommendations for everything I've ever needed recommendations for - internships, scholarship apps, law school apps, etc. I bet they have form letters for me by now!

If you're not very close with any professors but you need a recommendation anyway, here's what you should do: Go to the professor's office hours to ask for a recommendation letter. Sit down and talk to the professor about your career goals, your reasons for wanting to go to law school, why you think you'd be good at law school, and some of your academic interests. That will help your professor get to know you better in a very focused way, and at the same time give him/her something to write about in the letter instead of just saying "this person did well in my class".

Tristana

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2005, 10:13:25 AM »
I am going to be applying to schools this upcoming fall and want to get a head start on the whole process as early as possible.  I am really concerned about who to get recommendations from, though, and was wondering if some of you guys could provide me with a bit of insight. Specifically, as the title asks, how well do you know the professors who wrote your recommendations? I ask because although I am a good student (3.98 GPA, never skip more than 1 class a semester, join in discussions, etc.), I don't have many strong relationships with my professors.  I am planning on asking 2 teachers who I have had several classes with, but even those 2, who I am "closest" to, have talked with me outside of class 5 - maybe 8 - times total.

Is this really bad or is anyone else in a similar position? Does it really matter a huge amount if I keep my GPA where it is and do well (168+) on the LSAT?

Thanks!

I would try to stop by office hours once in a while. Discuss paper topics or something of that nature so they will see you are interested in the material. It's good that you join in discussions - participation helps the professors remember you and gives them another good thing to say about you. Also, try to go to an undergraduate conference or something. Not only will it look good, but one of your professors could help you through the process and thus become closer to you. Does your major department/university have any writing contests? You could submit a paper from one of your classes and have the prof help you with it. Just some ideas. Good luck!
PS - even if you are getting As on your papers, try to do a great job on research. That is also another chance to ask your professors for advice outside of class.
PPS - I assume that you graduate in May but it isn't too late to follow my advice about the papers.

tstein

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2005, 11:52:18 AM »
I can say that I didn't know mine really well. One professor I never met. I took an online class with him and did all talking through email. He told me at the end of the year that if I ever needed a LOR he would be happy to write one. I jumped on the chance. He than told me than if he wrote my letter "I would be sure to get in."

My second rec. was in a case similar to yours. I had a couple classes with the prof. and did real well. Never had to talk much outside the class. I emailed him and aked if he would be willing to write me a letter. Than I met with him and we talked about my career goals. I also incuded a transcript, my PS, and a paper from his class to help him write. I put everything together in a folder for him.

HTH

zenbiddie

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2005, 12:13:58 PM »
even if you don't know a prof that well, never be embarassed to ask for a LOR - especially if you did a great job in the class.  it's part of their job to write LORs and they know this.  unless you really pissed someone off or rubbed them the wrong way, im sure they will be glad to write one. 

the previous posts offer good advice. i would only add - ask like two months before you need the letter. and follow up with polite reminders.  one prof promised me the letter and then bailed at the last minute so it helps to have a few back up letters, just in case.

geni

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2005, 01:17:56 PM »
I literally NEVER met any of my recommenders.  My undergrad is an online school, so I "attended" classes by logging on to chats, participating on message boards, by email, and by uploading my papers.

During the last year, I knew that I would need to get some of my professors to write letters for me, so I made a point of bringing up my interest in law school with those teachers that seemed most impressed with my work (based on their comments when grading papers).  I also made a point of sharing some information about my personal life as well, so that they would feel more like they knew me.  While I was in their classes and they were grading my work, I was also evaluating their merits as a potential LOR writer. 

I think an important thing to consider when choosing who to ask for a letter of recommendation, is the writing ability of the recommender.  Not all professors are great writers.  I never hear this mentioned... but I think it is highly relevant.  The better the writer, the clearer their message.  I was able to find published academic articles written by two of my recommenders, so I was able to reveiw some of their writing to see if it was clear and intelligent.  The third recommender always wrote lengthy feedback comments when grading assignments, so I had seen a demonstration of her writing abilities. 

All of the professors that I asked were more than willing to write a LOR for me.  I had done very well in each of their classes and they all remembered my class participation.  I got three letters from online professors.  One of them sent me a copy, so I got to read it (it was excellent, btw).  The other two just sent their LOR to LSDAS and I never saw them... but I am confident that they were great letters.   

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2005, 01:29:59 PM »
I've asked the same two professors for recommendations for everything I've ever needed recommendations for - internships, scholarship apps, law school apps, etc. I bet they have form letters for me by now!

If you're not very close with any professors but you need a recommendation anyway, here's what you should do: Go to the professor's office hours to ask for a recommendation letter. Sit down and talk to the professor about your career goals, your reasons for wanting to go to law school, why you think you'd be good at law school, and some of your academic interests. That will help your professor get to know you better in a very focused way, and at the same time give him/her something to write about in the letter instead of just saying "this person did well in my class".


that's good advice. i would also give them a copy of your transcript.
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ImVinny!

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Re: How well do you know your recommenders?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2005, 01:54:40 PM »
Just to interject:
Just because a teacher is a great writer doesn't mean they will do a great job with LOR really. One of my Prof. has written NUMEROUS books and articles in journals and the like. I have talked with him about career goals and everything. He wanted to write me a letter of recommendation for a White House internship, bad move. It turned out I had to fax it, so I had to see the letter, all he wrote was a paragraph, YES a PARAGRAH on how I wouldn't be a national security threat.
I think in having the prof get to knwo you, you can get to know them, and sometimes good writers are sucky LOR writers.
Just a though to add.
I have two letters already done, because it's the same two I have been using for things, these people wrote phenominal LOR for me. The thing that they share in common is that they are enthusiastic, I think that is just a though to look at as well.