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Can a LOR be TOO good?


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Hello guys!

I asked 3 people to write a LOR for me, two formers employers and one teacher. They didn't show me the letters but they told me roughly what they put in them. I knew I could expect good recommendations but I'm afraid they overdid it. They're not americans, and I think they really wanted to convince the Admission Board to accept me. My problem is : can a LOR be too good and sound just ridiculously glowing?

I think I'm gonna ask them to show me what they did but it will be too late no matter what and I don't want to look ungrateful... They told me they put anecdotes, stories, clear and precise explanations and two of them wrote a 3 pages letter!!!

Can a LOR be too good? can the Admission Board think "there's no way this girl is that good"?

I know my question might seem strange to you, but in my country, the answer would be "yes"! Modesty is a huge principle.

Am I screwed????

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I think an LOR cannot be too good, unless it says something that is obviously and blatantly untruthful.

In American culture, exaggeration is extremely common, possibly ubiquitous: for example, look at the financial crisis of the last several years, particularly at what caused it (over-valuation of questionable investments). I also read (several years ago) that over 90% of ivy league undergraduates receive 4.0 cumulative averages. (Ninety percent of students cannot be "superior" to all of their peers; the whole thing is a non-sequitir.)

It's also common knowledge acording to my brother, a career officer in the U.S. Army, that the best way to ruin an officer's career is to write a performance appraisal saying something like, "Lieutenant Jones is a fine and dedicated officer." Superlatives abound in that environment, the more the better, so maintains my brother.

It's probably a good idea to be sure that your recommendors did not actually lie about you, but, in the absence of complete untruths, an LOR cannot be too good in my opinion.


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Am I screwed????

No. I think profs realize that there can be different standards from different countries in terms of what constitutes an 'acceptable' level of praise and what is over the top. What they are going to be looking for is not how effusive the LoR is, but rather what the writers say about your research potential (if its a research based program you are applying to) or your ability to do well in grad school and beyond.

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