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Writing recommendation letters

  1. Jan 9, 2016 #1
    Do professors always wish to write recommendation letters for bright students they personally know very well?

    Is it quite often done to build up a good profile of the professor in the admissions committee of the university the student applies to?
     
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  3. Jan 9, 2016 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    Professors will typically be happy to write letters of recommendation for a student they think will do well at a given university- it is a standard part of the job. I don't understand what you mean by "build up a good profile of the professor in the admissions committee". I can't imagine why a professor would worry about such a thing.
     
  4. Jan 9, 2016 #3
    I don't know either, but I've seen professors expressing desire to write letters of recommendations for some of my extremely bright classmates?
     
  5. Jan 9, 2016 #4

    DrClaude

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    I have done that a few times. I think it is a way of encouraging students to continue with their studies and letting them know they can go far. Students can also be shy and feel uncomfortable with the idea of soliciting a letter of recommendation, so it is a way to let them know that I will gladly do it should they need one.
     
  6. Jan 9, 2016 #5
    Isn't writing recommendation letters a totally selfless act? All the professor gets is perhaps a thank-you note from the student.
     
  7. Jan 9, 2016 #6

    HallsofIvy

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    And seldom that!
     
  8. Jan 9, 2016 #7

    Orodruin

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    Yes, it is a way of giving back to the community what you once were offered by other professors. Professors have been students in need of recommendation letters too.
     
  9. Jan 9, 2016 #8
    Is it true that recommendation letters of different professors are weighted differently in the eyes of the admissions committee?

    Is a letter by a professor from a top-10 university in the world going to be valued in the same light as a letter by a professor from a top-500 university?
     
  10. Jan 9, 2016 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    Of course. How could it possibly be otherwise.

    Doesn't that depend on what the letter says?
     
  11. Jan 9, 2016 #10
    Oh! So, you mean that the value of a letter comes from what the letter say, i.e. recommendation letter is a dialogue between experienced academics, so only an academic of sufficiently high caliber will be able to write a letter of value?
     
  12. Jan 9, 2016 #11

    Orodruin

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    Of course it depends on what the letter says. If it says "Do NOT hire!" your chances will be non-existing.
     
  13. Jan 9, 2016 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    Did I say "it depends on what they letter says" or did I say "it depends on who writes it"?
     
  14. Jan 10, 2016 #13
    You said 'it depends on what the letter says.'
     
  15. Jan 10, 2016 #14

    Vanadium 50

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    And there's your answer.
     
  16. Jan 10, 2016 #15

    radium

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    Having recommendations from well known people helps because the recommender likely knows people on the admissions committee which gives them more insight into the letter. For example, you may have a recommender who gives praise sparingly, so if people know this professor and they write a good letter it gives it extra weight.
     
  17. Jan 11, 2016 #16

    Andy Resnick

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    I don't know what Vanadium 50 meant, but when I write a letter for a student I try to include specifics- for example, a good letter will not just say "student X is in the top 10% of students", but include the justification for this ranking- "I had student X in 3 classes, student X worked in my lab for 2 semesters, I witnessed student X give scientific presentations to peers, ..." and I also like to enunciate specific qualities of student X that I think demonstrate fitness for grad school or a job- working independently (with examples), oral and written communication skills (with examples), etc. etc.
     
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