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Securing early reccomendations

  1. Sep 3, 2006 #1
    Hi i'm entering my junior year and i'm wondering how the process of securing early reccomendations works. Ideally I want to get reccomendations when it's still fresh in the professor's memory that i performed very well and am a good candidate for graduate school.

    There is a second part to my question. This semester I am taking a decent work load, but next semester I will be taking all signature upper divisions (Measure Theory, Chaos and Dynamics, Topology, Differential Geo, etc). Wouldn't it be better to get reccomendations from professors who taught me the more difficult material??

    Regardless, I would like to know how the process works. Do the professors give me one general reccomendation that I can photocopy at my whim? I thought I wasn't allowed to see the actual contents of the letter? How does the process work?

    These are reccomendations for grad school. Also, what about reccomendations for REU's???
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2006 #2
    You want to ask for recommendations from the professors who thought of you the most highly, not the ones where you learned the most difficult material or got the highest grade.

    If all you did was get a good grade in a class, the professor isn't going to know you very well. To him, you're just a number, and maybe someone who asked insightful questions in class. If he has had limited interaction with you, then what can he write in the letter? That you got an A and didn't skip class? That won't help any since all it does is reflect what's already in your transcript.

    Often graduate school recommendation letters are done online now, you give a link to your professors and they fill it in online. If it is not online, it is courtesy to provide your professor with the correct, filled-out paper recommendation form, and correctly addressed envelope with postage applied, to make it easiest on them. If you make them work to recommend you, they won't have as good an impression as they write the letter.

    Technically, under united states law, you are allowed to review all educational records that are kept by universities, including recommendation letters. However, it is commonplace (and a sign of respect to the professors you're asking) to waive your right to see the content of the letter. This ensures that the professor can say whatever they want without fear, and the admissions office knows that they are recieving an honest letter.
  4. Sep 4, 2006 #3
    i knew all that, how does getting an early reccomendation work???????????????????????????

    i'm obviously not applying to grad school yet, so i dont know which schools i'm applying to, how many schools i'm applying to. i'm asking the professor for a letter of rec, but they dont know how many copies to make and where they are for yet.

    i cant come to them saying, hey i'm applyig to such and such university and xyz university, here are self addressed manila envelopes.
  5. Sep 4, 2006 #4
    I don't know from experience, but here is what I do

    1. Work hard in every class.
    2. Participate in class, ask questions.
    3. Visit your profesor during office hours. During the visit ask questions about the class, and more importantly ask questions about class related subjects that are of interest to both of you. I think showing interest on a subject loosly related to the course but not directly taken from the class goes a long way.
    4. Be polite and friendly but dont kiss ass. I think a professor befriends a polite student that is honest, but I'm sure they can spot you when you try to brown nose.
    5. Earn the recomendation by working hard and doing more work than it is requiered from the course.

    That is my way of doing things, although I may never ask for a recomendation letter from the professor. I want them to start thinking of me as collegues not just another student. If I earned a recomendation from my professor it will show when they fill it out.
  6. Sep 4, 2006 #5
    I don't get what you want. You want professors to write recommendation letters but have no need for them right now? Most professors are not going to write generic letters and give them to you.

    You could go to one of your professors, and ask "will you write me a letter in a year when I apply to grad school?", but chances are they'll say "OK, remind me in a year".
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