LoR from faculty advisor?

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Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:13 pm

LoR from faculty advisor?

Postby kz89 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:26 pm

My faculty advisor is teaching me a class this semester and I am hoping to get the 3rd letter from him. I'm not a very active student and most professors don't remember me. Well if he's my faculty advisor, at least he knows me. Less importantly, he's famous in the subfield I'm applying to, although I don't know if it matters at all if he doesn't know me that well.

My problem is that, I feel way too awkward to ask him. I've been talking with him about grad school applications and who to write my letter for a while, and he's been telling me all those stuff about how to choose schools and ask for letters, how to write the SoP, how to prepare for gre etc etc. Now I feel super uncomfortable and embarrassed to go to him and be like "hey actually could YOU write me a letter."

I don't know whether I'm just being too shy. I'm also not sure if I'll do well in his class or not. What do you think?

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Re: LoR from faculty advisor?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:24 am

It's actually good that you've been talking to your faculty advisor about applying to grad school. If you want a letter from him, I think you can just ask to meet with him and let him know that you would like to discuss reference letters for grad school specifically. Then you can ask him if he would be able to write you a letter.

That said, you are right that this will not be a very strong letter at all and that his fame won't matter if he doesn't actually know you very well. This is slightly better than a letter from a professor who only taught you classes though, since you and him have been talking about grad school for a while now.

However, if you already have two good letters from research advisors etc. and you need a 3rd letter, then this one would be fine. In that case, one way you could phrase the request is that you have X and Y as your first two letters and you are looking for a 3rd letter. You could say that your faculty advisor knows you best out of all the profs that you have had classes with and ask if he would be willing to write you the 3rd letter or if he has suggestions for someone else.

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Re: LoR from faculty advisor?

Postby msdecaro » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:31 am

Meet with him in person to talk about grad school. Come with a handful of other questions in mind to give him the impression that you are strongly interested in applying this cycle. Toward the end of your meeting, explain to him that you have two other letters but have very few options to get a third letter from, then ask if he would be comfortable writing one for you. If he's been teaching for a long time, it's likely that he has written a 'generic' letter for someone before.

I would phrase the topic this way: 'One concern is that since we rarely interact outside of the classroom, that you might not have much to write about me in a letter. What information would you need to know about me to write a more compelling letter?"

And meet with him ASAP. In case he says no, you need time to look for an alternative person. Good luck!

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