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Advice on who to get my Grad Recommendations from

  1. Jul 26, 2011 #1
    So I have a problem that really isn't a problem. At my school, I have 3 professors that I know very well and have done research with. They all could write me very glowing and personal recommendations, but I go to a liberal arts school and I'm applying to school for Geophysics. Right now I'm doing an REU in Geophysics at probably the top program in the united states, give or take a few schools, and while my adviser thinks i'm doing great work, he has only known me for a few months and I'm not sure how personal his recommendation will be. My GPA is low for applying to pHD programs, but I was told I got into this program(REU) because of my glowing recommendations and research experience, so I am wondering if I should just stick with all the professors at my school or boot one out for my adviser.

    Any thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2011 #2
    I think I don't get your point. You are not allowed to add four letters of recommendation?
    I'd definitely add the one of the only professor who actually works in the field you are applying to, especially if he seems like your work (or even better in this case: considers it great). Why should the grad school prefer a recommendation based on your personality over a recommendation on your professional skills shown, anyways?
  4. Jul 26, 2011 #3
    The admissions committee's at most schools only want 3 recommendations, but I am not sure if adding a fourth is OK. All of the professors that I have done research with are earth scientists except one. The reason I am questioning whether or not to add my current reu adviser is because of the short time In which I have worked with him. All of the other professors I have worked with over a year, in some cases 2. I think its a no-brainer for when I'm applying to the school I am current doing an REU at, but other schools? I am not so sure.

    I guess the general question is does the prestige of where the person that is giving the recommendation comes from more important than the length of time that the student has worked with him.
  5. Jul 26, 2011 #4
    I think "a few months" is plenty of time, so if that's the only thing that's holding you back from asking this professor for a recommendation, I'd say it's a non-issue.
  6. Jul 26, 2011 #5
    Adding a supplementary teacher recc is fine, but only as long as it adds another 'dimension' to you, if you know what i mean. Nobody wants to read a letter detailing the same things. If you're sure all 4 will write not only great things, but different things, then I'd encourage you to submit all 4.
  7. Jul 26, 2011 #6
    I wouldn't do it. If they say three recommendations, then you should give three. If they say type on 12 point font with 1 inch margins, then do *exactly* what they say.

    You have to look from the point of view of the admissions department. They have a ton of paper that they have to deal with. Anything that makes your application non-standard increases the chances that something bad will happen to you.

    For example, suppose that they use an excel spreadsheet to track applications. They put three columns for recommendations, you put four. It's going to cause them headaches and you don't want to cause them headaches.

    Personally, if you are applying for geophysics, I'd include a letter from a professor that has done geophysics. One important thing is not only how well the professor knows you, but how well the admission committee knows the professor.
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