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If a graduate program allows someone to send 5-6 LORs, then could it be a good idea for them to send a LOR from a non-academic?


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Holy smokes! 5-6?! I've never scoped out a school that wanted more than 4!

My first choice school takes 3 references, and even with that number, I'm planning to make one of them a non-academic. I finished my MA last October and am applying for the PhD next September. In the meantime, I've been working a couple of gigs in research (not specifically tied to my specialization, but in the social science field at least). I'm kind of hoping that this will "flesh out" my app a bit by showing that I functioned as a "real-world" researcher, in a position where I was PAID to draw on my scholarly skills. I want to show that my time away from academia was well spent and that I've cultivated some experience to BRING BACK to the academic table.

So, yeah, if you've got that many references to play with, I think that one of 'em could be non-academic. I'm still a little thrown by that large number though, and would caution quality over quantity. I would put my money on a handful of thoughtful, comprehensive letters over 5-6 short and/or repetitive ones. Just make sure that every one that you include is actually going to add to your app, rather than belabour the same points.

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Yeah exactly - that's why I was thinking of asking for a LOR from a non-academic - because it's easier to get different points from someone who knows me from a different setting (Quora), but who could still comment on attributes like ingenuity, communication skills, and depth of thinking.

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