Law School Discussion

My LOR choices - sending 4 a good idea?

My LOR choices - sending 4 a good idea?
« on: September 21, 2008, 09:27:01 PM »
Dear LSD posters (and geniuses):

I have a few questions about my LOR choices. I am hoping to get into Northwestern or UChicago, although currently with a low LSAT (162- retaking on 10/4), but a good GPA (3.96), good post college work experience, graduated with honors, etc. I know, I know - this might be unrealistic, but bear with me (I'm applying to lower ranked schools as well). I have been out of undergrad for a little over a year.

First - if I send in 4 LOR, do they all get equal weight? I know many schools require 1 or 2, but will accept up to 4 and I wasn't sure the best approach.

Second (and very related) - is help with my decision of recommenders. Here are my top options:

1. My thesis advisor senior year (PhD Clinical Psych) who I met with weekly, advised me on my honors thesis, and viewed several related presentations (oral and poster) at different conferences. Speaks to my professionalism, writing, and verbal/presentation skills, but unfortunately I did not take a class with her.

2. A professor (PhD Social Psych) of mine who I did exceptionally well in his class (although we did not write any papers), and worked in his research lab for over 2 years (we have a good relationship).

3. My current mentor/boss at the University of Chicago (PhD Clinical Psych), where I do research in the Psychiatry Department. I know this is employment, but I have had to work on papers, and abstracts, so it should also speak to my writing ability, among other things. We have a great relationship and I manage many things at this job so I figure it would be good. (is this a correct assumption?)

4. I could also add (or have this instead of one of the above) one of my TAs from an upper level Sociology class that I wrote many papers for my senior year. While I received exceptional feedback (in person and on the papers), and received an A+ while many other students really struggled in this course, I did not take the time to meet with him out of class much, so I feel that part of the relationship is lacking - thus I am somewhat reluctant to include. But this would be a good offset to the above 3 LOR as it speaks to my writing ability, especially comparatively to others in the course.

Also, I live too far from my Undergrad to request the LOR in person, so I will be sending emails. Which might not fully allow for #4 to remember me...

Last question - which I hit on with my discussion of my LORs above. It seems professors are considered better than work recommenders. How does this relate to my recommenders and does the fact that I did not write any papers with #2 above make him less of a recommender?

Thanks for any advice!

Re: My LOR choices - sending 4 a good idea?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2008, 07:43:59 AM »
I would say stick with the first three. They'll get a sense of your writing ability from the application essays, and it sounds like your #1 can speak to your writing and research abilities specifically. The fourth may just seem superfluous, and TAs don't always know how to write a stunning letter--do you need it badly enough to risk a mediocre letter?

Re: My LOR choices - sending 4 a good idea?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2008, 10:32:56 AM »
So then, even though I have no papers from any of my first three listed recommenders that are from classes that can speak to my comparative ability - you think these would be alright?

I agree about not wanting to add in too many recommenders if this takes away from other parts of my application.


  • ***
  • 21
  • PM me! I'll read your PS.
    • View Profile
Re: My LOR choices - sending 4 a good idea?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2008, 10:43:13 AM »
A recommendation from a TA would not carry as much weight. Of course, get one from your thesis advisor--even if you did not have a class with her. The relationship is what is important.

LOR's...I doubt the adcomms have a hard-and-fast metric for weighting them. Most students get generically good LOR's that will not tip the scales...but one really good, or really poor LOR from a qualified professor can make or break you, I'd imagine.

Here's what you'll need to decide--if you want to send all 3 LOR's up front, or if you want to keep one and use it as a "please take me off the waitlist" LOR should you get placed on a waitlist. That's standard behavior for interested waitlistees--follow up with another glowing LOR and a letter of "continued interest" on your part.

Not that you can predict these things! ;-)