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Unsure about one of my recommenders...


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I will be applying to Master of Planning programs as an international student in the next month. I requested two out of three of my letters of recommendation well in advance from people who can speak directly to my skills and abilities, however, I was unsure about the third letter until recently.

I finally decided to ask one of the few people that work in the Planning profession in my country, who also happens to be a family friend. I have been receiving advice from him regarding graduate study and specific professional aspirations of mine for the past two years. Having said that, I have not had the opportunity to work under him.

Did I make the right decision in choosing my last recommender for what he has to say about my commitment and potential in his field of work or should I have chosen someone else I have worked under?

Help please!!

Edited by loora
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It's typically frowned upon to get a family member or family friend to write you a recommendation or be a reference. While I am sure this friend is an excellent mentor, it will likely be clear that he has not supervised you in any capacity. However the very strong things he has to say could outshine those negatives. I'm interested to hear other people's opinions.

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My $0.02: U.S. schools expect all recommendations to come from professors, but will occasionally make an exception and permit one from an employer. A recommendation from a family friend is not acceptable and will suggest to those making the admissions decisions that you haven't made an effort to understand the process.

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Thank you very much for you input. All the programs I am applying to require at least one academic reference and prefer a balance between academic and professional. Since I have more professional than academic experience the balance would tilt towards the professional.

Also, perhaps I wasn't clear about this family friend... He has served as an adviser and mentor, cultivating my interests in the profession and leading me in the right direction. If it were not for the fact that he is also a family friend I probably would not be doubting my choice. Maybe that helps putting it into perspective.

Any thoughts on that?

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