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Letters of Recommendation

  • Thread starter srfriggen
  • Start date
  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

The school I will be applying for a MA in Math requires 2 letters of recommendation.

I am currently taking an undergraduate course at that school and I was advised to certainly get a letter of recommendation from my professor there.

I have two other options from where to get the other one letter of recommendation. One is a professor that I took for Calc I, the other is a professor that I took for Calc II.

There are pros and cons for each (I think). I received the highest marks in the class in both calc I and calc II and have a great report with both professors.

The pros for my calc I teacher, I believe, is that he has a PHD and from Carnegie Mellon and has done post doc work. He also knows me well, and he even came to see my band play in a bar one night and we had a few drinks. Cons would be that I only took him for calc I (an easy course... though trust me this guy made it difficult!), and he is younger than my other professor and much less experienced with teaching (he only recently received a position at a college in Long Island).

Pros for my calc II teacher is that the course was significantly more difficult and I still excelled, she really enjoyed having me as a student (she told me it was a pleasure reading my work and having me in her class) and may write a more enthusiastic letter. She is also much older and has been teaching for much much longer than the previous mentioned professor. Cons: She does not have a PHD, but a Masters in Math from Queens College in NY. I do not think she has published anything significant, where as my other professor... well that's his "job", so he told me.


I have never had to approach a professor for a letter of recommendation. Is it normal to be able to read the letter first before it is sent to the school or would my previous professors send them directly? if the former then I will ask for letters from both of them and submit the one I feel presents a stronger case for me.


thoughts?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
585
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I'm a little confused. You are applying to an MA program but only mention freshman math classes. Have you done any research or internships?
 
  • #3
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I'm a little confused. You are applying to an MA program but only mention freshman math classes. Have you done any research or internships?

No. I have a BA in economics which I attained in 2004. I decided I wanted to go back to school for math and was advised (by the heads of math departments and administration offices at various schools) that the core classes I would need would be calc I, calc II, and multivariable calculus along with Linear algebra. With my econ background I have two statistics courses as well.

Many schools I've spoken with (including the one I will be applying to) will accept a student for a masters in math even with a weak math background provided they take the classes I mentioned in the above paragraph. Acceptance would be conditional, meaning I would have 1 year to complete as many undergraduate courses as I feel fit (some required, such as 1 full year sequence of real analysis, or what some schools call advanced calculus or even theoretical calculus). Upon completion of those classes I would be able to take graduate level courses.

I have been in very close contact with the graduate adviser at the school and according to him I am on the right track. I could have applied for conditional admission for acceptance in the fall, but he suggested taking a course there first and having a professor from that college write me a letter of recommendation, as that would help my chances greatly.
 
  • #4
585
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Well I can only give you my personal opinion. I would just go with the person who you think knows you the best and will give you the most detailed and enthusiastic recommendation.

When I applied to grad schools they usually give you a choice to provide an electronic signature, stating that you have waived the right to view the letters. Apparently this isn't mandatory, but I did it for all my applications. I guess if you really want to see the letters you could try to work that out with the writers. It doesn't seem like it's worth it to me.
 
  • #5
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When I applied to grad schools they usually give you a choice to provide an electronic signature, stating that you have waived the right to view the letters.
This is a legal requirement as a result of the Buckley Amendment. Under US Federal law you have the right to see any information that a university has about you unless you specifically waive your rights.
 
  • #6
585
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Is it normal then to review your letters of recommendation before sending them out? I waived my rights on all my applications. It seemed to me that it would indicate that my letters of recommendation are not biased due to my being able to read them.
 

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