LOR question

blackcat007
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LOR question

Postby blackcat007 » Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:22 am

good that someone already started this.. I have a similar problem..

2 of my recommenders are my profs who taught me UG physics and math, they know me very well and will give me good recos.
but my third recommender is the prof under whom i did my summer project. Now the problem with him is that although he was very pleased with my results and encouraged me very much (he even said "you just need the opportunity, you can do wonders") but more often he used to say "you are doing fairly well", or "you have done well". Its his style, his words of appreciation are of moderate level. Now i am having trepidations about this word fairly, some sources on the internet say that fairly well is equivalent to no good. will this botch up my chances of getting admitted?

or i have another math prof in my arsenal :D who can also give me a good reco, but then i thought all the three recos from my UG institute may seem a bit redundant and also i wanted my research exp to be highlighted in my recos.
what do you guys think i should do?

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grae313
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Re: LOR question

Postby grae313 » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:38 pm

blackcat, I changed this to a new thread since the original thread OP might have been looking for more opinions and your post would sort of take over his thread :)

My opinion on your case, if you've done research you need your research prof to write you a LOR, otherwise the admissions committee is going to wonder why you didn't get a LOR from this person. Your LOR from your research adviser is your most important LOR. Classes are only the first two years of grad school. The rest is research.

blackcat007
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Re: LOR question

Postby blackcat007 » Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:26 pm

grae313 wrote:blackcat, I changed this to a new thread since the original thread OP might have been looking for more opinions and your post would sort of take over his thread :)

My opinion on your case, if you've done research you need your research prof to write you a LOR, otherwise the admissions committee is going to wonder why you didn't get a LOR from this person. Your LOR from your research adviser is your most important LOR. Classes are only the first two years of grad school. The rest is research.


ok thanks, but do you think that his "fairly well" will reduce the "punch" of his reco?

sravanskarri
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Re: LOR question

Postby sravanskarri » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:13 pm

I think you should stick to the professor that you worked under.Most professors will not like to say you are a genius etc just to keep you motivated at your work. Since your professor already said "You could do wonders" he must be pretty impressed with you :D.

blackcat007
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Re: LOR question

Postby blackcat007 » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:27 pm

sravanskarri wrote:I think you should stick to the professor that you worked under.Most professors will not like to say you are a genius etc just to keep you motivated at your work. Since your professor already said "You could do wonders" he must be pretty impressed with you :D.


yes thats the thing, many people write things differently than what they say.. i hope he writes it that way.. and the most important thing is that i have only one summer project :oops: , so i can't afford losing the opportunity of mentioning that in my reco.

irockhard
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Re: LOR question

Postby irockhard » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:51 pm

grae313 wrote:blackcat, I changed this to a new thread since the original thread OP might have been looking for more opinions and your post would sort of take over his thread :)

My opinion on your case, if you've done research you need your research prof to write you a LOR, otherwise the admissions committee is going to wonder why you didn't get a LOR from this person. Your LOR from your research adviser is your most important LOR. Classes are only the first two years of grad school. The rest is research.


So if I have worked for three different professors, is it OK that I get letters from only two of them and get the third letter from a professor whom I had an advanced lab class with? Will the admission committee wonder why I don't get all of my LORs from my PIs?

Also a side question, how important is the stature of the recommender? A full-tenured professor who knows me quite well, or a research associate who's my supervisor and knows me very well, which one is better?

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grae313
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Re: LOR question

Postby grae313 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:21 am

blackcat007 wrote: ok thanks, but do you think that his "fairly well" will reduce the "punch" of his reco?


Of course it willl (if he writes that) but not so much that it would justify not getting a letter from him. There is very little that can justify not getting a letter from your research adviser. You pretty much have to.

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grae313
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Re: LOR question

Postby grae313 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:26 am

irockhard wrote:So if I have worked for three different professors, is it OK that I get letters from only two of them and get the third letter from a professor whom I had an advanced lab class with? Will the admission committee wonder why I don't get all of my LORs from my PIs?

Also a side question, how important is the stature of the recommender? A full-tenured professor who knows me quite well, or a research associate who's my supervisor and knows me very well, which one is better?


Yeah, I'd say diversity is good since you already have people to speak to your research ability. If you have a professor that thinks highly of you or knows you well it shouldn't raise any eyebrows as long as the one you leave out wasn't the adviser of your most major or long term research endeavor. As to the stature, well this can be tough. In my opinion, unless the full professor is well known in his field or has connections at the school you are applying to, go with the one who knows you better. For what its worth, none of my recommenders were well known or connected.

jones
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Re: LOR question

Postby jones » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:51 am

I am currently doing my master's thesis in an external institute with a top professor in my field, but I have worked under him for just a couple of months and met him only 4-5 times since he's a real big shot and doesn't have much time, so I feel he hardly knows me and cannot write an honest LOR. Therefore I asked my professors at my unversity who know me really well for LORs, and I am mentioning my thesis under my famous professor in my SOP and resume, and if necessary, will also get a letter from him that I am doing a thesis under him, but will it affect my chances that I do not have a LOR from this professor? I am sure of excellent LORS from my university professors under whom I've done courses and projects.

nathan12343
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Re: LOR question

Postby nathan12343 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:35 pm

You really should get a letter from the professor you are doing your thesis work under. Admissions committees will wonder why you don't have anything from him especially if you mention him prominently in your SOP.

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grae313
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Re: LOR question

Postby grae313 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:34 pm

to add to this, admissions committees are much more interested in hearing about your research than your classes. It will look odd to not have this letter. Is there a post-doc or somebody else in the group that you worked more closely with who could write you a letter?

jones
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Re: LOR question

Postby jones » Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:59 am

Yes, I mostly work with a post-doc, but I've heard that an LOR from a post-doc is not advisable.

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grae313
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Re: LOR question

Postby grae313 » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:08 pm

jones wrote:Yes, I mostly work with a post-doc, but I've heard that an LOR from a post-doc is not advisable.


Well in this case I'd be inclined to make the exception. If the professor is really in no position to comment about your research abilities and potential as a researcher in grad school, getting a letter from the post-doc might be the best option. If I were you I'd call up a school or two and just ask them whether they'd prefer a letter from the lead-professor who you didn't interact with much or the post-doc in the group who you worked closely with. They know how it is in research, if the prof is high-profile they are always busy writing grants and going to conferences, they know the students end up working with the post-docs in this scenario. It's very common. Ask them who they'd rather hear from. But I cannot emphasize enough, I've spoken with many people on admissions committees and some even say this explicitly on their websites: your most important letter by far is from your research adviser, or anyone who can speak to your research abilities. Three letters from professors saying how good you are in class is not what they are interested in. One letter from someone who can speak to your classroom abilities and two letters from people who can speak to your research abilities is the ideal ratio. Only a year or two in grad school is spent in classes, and your performance in class does not directly correlate to your ability to do independent research on brand new problems. It's an entirely new beast and the best way to show you are capable is to show evidence of past success. You need *someone* to write about your research. If you have a research project and no letters form it, it looks really bad. If I read an application like that, I'd assume the student didn't obtain these letters because the student knew the letters wouldn't be good.

jones
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Re: LOR question

Postby jones » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:24 am

Ok, that puts things into more perspective. Until now I was under the impression that the specific content of the LOR was more important than who wrote it. I certainly did not think that NOT getting an LOR from my research advisor would have negative impact.




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