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What to write in letters of recommendation?

  1. Sep 8, 2014 #1
    I'm not sure what the content should be like in a letter of recommendation for graduate school, and what adcoms are particularly looking for in these...besides praise for the student, I guess? What should and shouldn't be included in the letter?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Are you writing one?
     
  4. Sep 8, 2014 #3
    Yes.
     
  5. Sep 8, 2014 #4

    DrClaude

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    A letter of recommendation should contain information about who you are and in what capacity you interacted with the person concerned. Your appraisal should be measured and fair, and its good to indicate what population you are using for comparison. Saying that a student is the best you ever tutored doesn't mean the same thing if you've tutored 10 students in your career or you've been at it for 20 years and seen hundreds of students.

    You have to be very careful how you phrase any criticism you make, but as a recepient of a letter I would expect an honest appraisal. Writing letters for very good students is easy, not so much for average students.
     
  6. Sep 8, 2014 #5

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    Since as of December you were in a community college, you really shouldn't be writing a letter of recommendation for grad school. It cannot be taken seriously, since without having gone through the grad school process, you cannot fairly assess the candidate's ability. You are doing the candidate a disservice by writing a letter that will not be helpful.
     
  7. Sep 8, 2014 #6
    I am writing the letter for myself, for professors to sign off on (they either don't write English well, or don't feel like writing a letter themselves). I obviously don't know the grad school process, which is why I am asking advice from more experience personnel about what I should include/exclude.
     
  8. Sep 8, 2014 #7
    This is confusing to me. Perhaps your professors are fine with this, but to me it would make more sense to ask professors to write reviews entirely on their own, without you even getting to look them over. These carry much more weight as well. Who cares about a recommendation of yourself which you wrote yourself?

    Why / how does that it matter if they don't write english well? The only thing that matters is if they can fairly assess your ability. If a professor doesn't feel like writing a letter themself, then I would find a different professor.
     
  9. Sep 8, 2014 #8

    symbolipoint

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    The part which makes sense is helping the recommending professors to know more precisely what they can say about you as long as they are well enough acquainted with your work. Recommendation writers can ask you very justifiably for this. The part which does not make sense is their poor English for writing a letter for you. Just how do they communicate for professional purposes if their English is not so good? Maybe if this is another country than an English-speaking country - but "community college"?
     
  10. Sep 8, 2014 #9

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    This plan has a couple of flaws.

    1) Letters that the candidate has seen carry little or no weight.

    2) You are not prepared for graduate school. In this thread you say you have taken " courses like the calculus 1-3 sequence, linear algebra, physics 1-3 (with labs), general chemistry 1-2 (with labs)". That's nowhere near prepared - you need at least two more solid years of work.

    3) You say in this thread that your professors refuse to write you a letter for a 4-year college. If they won't do that, what makes you think they will sign one for graduate school.

    Some people might draw inferences from the fact that in June you complained that professors wouldn't write you a letter, and today you want advice on how to make a letter look like a professor wrote it. Another reason that this strategy is unlikely to work.
     
  11. Sep 8, 2014 #10
    To clarify some things: In regards to 3), I have already transferred to a senior college. 2), I will graduate after next semester, so I would have to start shelling out money to take extra courses since my degree will already have been completed (money which I don't have). 1) is something I didn't know about, so that's a concern for me now.
     
  12. Sep 8, 2014 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    Six months ago you had 50 hours. If you took a full load last semester, you need to take something like 60 hours and most if not all your upper division classes in the next semester. If you can do that, getting all A's, you will have no trouble getting a professor to write you a letter.
     
  13. Sep 8, 2014 #12
    No, in the spring after I transferred from CC I took 21 credits, 12 credits for the summer session, and 21 credits this semester. I don't have all 'A's (a few 'A-'s and a couple 'B+'s in courses unrelated to my major). I can skip the upcoming winter session to save money and grab the rest of the credits next semester.
     
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