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Could definitely use some advice. I'm applying for PhD programs in Urban Education/Sociology and Education with the goal of working as an education researcher. I am currently working as a Senior Research Associate at an educational nonprofit and I basically want to be able to continue to do my job at a more advanced level. I have two of my recommenders secured: the first is my immediate supervisor of 2 years, who holds a PhD herself and can speak to my capacities as a researcher and passion for education. The second is a Research Director of a institute at a nearby university, who I have collaborated with through my current position on a few conference presentations and a peer-reviewed article. Now, I graduated undergrad 10 years ago and finished my masters 3.5 years ago. I did well in grad school academically but I'd be very surprised if any of my professors remembered me personally from class. My original plan was to ask a professor who wrote truly glowing things on every paper I wrote for her class and even assigned a group paper I worked on as assigned reading the following semester. In response to my request, this professor wrote, " I can’t say how you will perform at the doctoral level for several reasons: 1. Masters level work is indicative but not predictive of the quality of doctoral work; 2. I can only speak to your performance based on one class; and 3. Your final paper was excellent but it was a team effort." ... ?♀️ I definitely assumed too confidently that that professor would have agreed to recommend me. So now I'm freaking out a bit with only 5 weeks til my first deadline and I think I have 2 options: 1) I can go ask one of my other grad school professors. I got A's in most classes but do not have personal connections with any professors and haven't spoken to most people in this category in 4-5 years. 2) I can ask the VP of my organization, who also holds a PhD and can speak much more specifically to my unique strengths and abilities, but she would be a third person who knows me primarily from a work context and not as a professor. What do you think? Better to go with a so-so academic recommendation or a strong professional one, given that I have already committed to 2 recommenders who are not former professors? Thanks!!