recommendation letters

abeboparebop
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:26 am

recommendation letters

Postby abeboparebop » Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:51 pm

I have two of my three recommendation letters for fellowships and grad school apps already lined up, but for the third I'm trying to decide between two different recommenders, let's call them A and B.

A Pros:
  • I'm fairly confident the letter would be glowing
  • can directly comment on my technical/research abilities

A Cons:
  • basically a nobody -- when I worked with him he was a visiting professor at an undergraduate institution, got his Ph.D. from Kansas State, wouldn't be known even within his field (which is not related to my areas of interest)
  • worked in close contact with me this summer, but wasn't directly my research advisor

B Pros:
  • he's accomplished and well-known within his field (which is also not related to my areas of interest)
  • seems to like me well enough - wrote reco letters for previous programs

B Cons:
  • would basically be a "he did well in my class" kind of letter -- I haven't worked with him in a research setting
  • doesn't really know me that well

Any thoughts on which would be seen as better by fellowship and grad school app reviewers?

stardust
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:15 pm

Re: recommendation letters

Postby stardust » Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:39 pm

Some schools let you send 4 recs instead of 3 so you may want to find out.

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secander2!
Posts: 264
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:25 pm

Re: recommendation letters

Postby secander2! » Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:41 pm

It might depend on what your other two letters are like. It couldn't hurt to get some name recognition (i.e. B) on the ticket if the other two letters have all the pros of Choice A. On the other hand, if the first two are kinda well-known but not so glowing, I might go with A. Anyways, I just came across this article on how to get fellowships the other day; it seems to have some good advice on letters of recommendation, so if you haven't seen it already, it might be helpful.

abeboparebop
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:26 am

Re: recommendation letters

Postby abeboparebop » Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:12 pm

One of the other letters is from a professor with whom I did research at that summer REU. Small institution, but I think he's fairly well known in computational non-linear dynamics.

The other is a professor from my home institution, which is a solid school with a very good cosmo department (his field and my current field of interest), not sure exactly how well known he is.

rohit
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:12 am

Re: recommendation letters

Postby rohit » Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:46 am

Do the same 3 profs readily give letters for all schools one is applyin to ? :?:

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secander2!
Posts: 264
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Re: recommendation letters

Postby secander2! » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:05 pm

Hmmm... it's still a tough question. Personally, I'd probably go with A due to the fact that a mediocre letter of recommendation is almost paramount to a bad letter of recommendation. If you do choose B though, I would make sure he can say more than just "he did well in my class"... perhaps give him a copy of your CV and maybe even your SOP so he can write a more meaningful letter.

abeboparebop
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:26 am

Re: recommendation letters

Postby abeboparebop » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:00 pm

rohit wrote:Do the same 3 profs readily give letters for all schools one is applyin to ? :?:


That's certainly the case for me.

PoincareSection
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Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:00 pm

Re: recommendation letters

Postby PoincareSection » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:03 pm

abeboparebop wrote:
rohit wrote:Do the same 3 profs readily give letters for all schools one is applyin to ? :?:


That's certainly the case for me.


Yes, I told all of my profs that it could be the same letter, just change the name of the school. For the ones not being completed online, I've supplied them with addressed envelopes to make it easier.

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coreycwgriffin
Posts: 249
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:28 am

Re: recommendation letters

Postby coreycwgriffin » Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:52 pm

PoincareSection wrote:I've supplied them with addressed envelopes to make it easier.


I did that with my professors when I asked them for letters for an REU I went to this past summer and they almost seemed offended. They said they specifically wanted to use personalized envelopes the department has. Kind of strange.

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Helio
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Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:11 pm

Re: recommendation letters

Postby Helio » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:56 pm

the whole stationary thing is all about the letterhead etc... physicist (and most programs) have an ego problem sometimes, so they need to make themselves feel special... i have gone through hell because of letterheads and LaTeX




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