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Help! Need opinions about choosing recommenders...

Guest bubuli

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Do you think schools would prefer a letter from someone who knows me very well and has worked with me for more than a year but not a professor (more like a mentor or friend) OR a reputable professor in the related field but I've only taken his class once? Does the recommender's position/title make a difference at all??

I have several people on my list and I'm SO frustrated in choosing two/three who can write me the strongest letters.

I'm applying to grad Art Therapy and Art Education and maybe Social Work too. Below is a short list of my recommenders. If you could give me your opinion and list the numbers in order of the likeliness of getting the stronger LOR, that would be awesome! I'd appreciate it.

1. A reputable professor whose class I took this past fall semester, the first time I ever took his class. I believe I did well from his comments about my work. He knows about my work and artistic ability, but I've only known him for less than a year and only through this class.

2. A faculty from a special needs school where I volunteered at last summer. He was my supervisor. The work that I did there is significant to the programs I'm applying for, however I've only known him through this opportunity and only worked together for a month.

3. The one who is in charge of the food pantry/bank where I volunteer at (social work kind of thing). I've worked with her for almost 2 years. She's very nice and she said she can write a good letter, but she doesn't actually know me that well. The only reason I asked her because she runs the place. I thought it would look good.

4. Another person who also works at the same food pantry whom I've known for 2 years now. She is not necessarily the person in charge there although she has worked there for a long time, but she knows me very well. She is also the leader of the Bible study I'm a member of. So, this probably would be more like a personal recommendation..? I'm not sure.


Edited by bubuli
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Well, if you need three letters I would suggest using all your options, as follows:

a. Joint letter from #3 and #4 (in particular, under the assumption that #3 is also #4's supervisor).

b. letter from #2

c. letter from #1

Professional programs of the type you're applying to are not something I am very familiar with, but it seems to me that you can submit letters from a wider array of sources than is customary for PhD programs. If so, you can take advantage of all of your options, as I suggested.

If you need to only choose two letters, I'd have to know more about your goals and the programs' requirements. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to both #1 and #2 but it's not clear to me which aspects of the letter are most important in your situation.

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