Jump to content

Choosing.. To far out an a limb?


Recommended Posts

I have secured a letter of recommendation from my employer and a very well known and respected professor. I had an interesting idea for the third and final letter.

Martial arts is a big part of my life. My "sensei" (his title is master or Khun Kru, but I know that master sounds weird and most people would not understand the meaning of Khun Kru) is a very influential person in my life. Over the last couple years, I have spent a majority of my free time at his school. I can honestly say it has been life changing and has taught me incredible lessons in the value and necessity of hard work, the importance of physical, mental and spiritual health and how to accomplish my goals while maintaining the highest ethics.

I have not only been a student of the school, but I have volunteered to help out with the kids program, staging competitions, and introducing new students.

My reservations:

I pay to attend his school. Will this look bad? (hey I paid to attend college)

Will this be viewed as to non-academic? While there is an intense physical aspect to marital arts, there is also quite a bit of learning. Believe it or not we take notes!

Conclusion:

I really feel this person knows me very well and can give some positive insight that would otherwise go unnoticed in the rest of my application.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have much experience with these kinds of things, but I would guess that while something like this would look good on an undergraduate application, it might not for a PhD, unless it is in a sports related field, and even then an academic reference would be better...

What you could do though, is add him as an extra/fourth recommender, for schools that don't limit you to three...

Another option would be to add him in for half your schools, so if it does not work out, you will have at least some schools left...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your sensei sounds like he could provide a valuable and interesting angle to your application, but I think another academic reference would benefit you more whatever field you're intending to enter. That said, many schools say they will consider 4 or more letters, and you might include one from your sensei for those that do. But I remember the caveat from most schools I looked into: "Letters from non-academic referees are generally less helpful than those from academic referees." Kind of a drag, because so much of a person's character is a factor in his/her success in school and life, and academic perspectives are only one angle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends on your field? I would guess that in most academic fields, having at least 2 academic recommenders is a minimum. It also depends on who your employer is...if the job is something very related to your field, then it should be good, but if the job is unrelated, then your employer is already your "non academic" recommender.

But having a sensei write a letter could be something that makes your application unique. This might work better for lower ranked schools that receive less applications though -- schools with hundreds of applicants to sift through might use this as an excuse to discard your application. Also, would your sensei be familiar with the style of an academic reference letter?

Finally, even if you can submit 4 letters, most places say that all submitted letters will be treated with equal weight...so having a weaker (i.e. non academic) letter can bring down your the "average"/overall quality of your letters.

Without further information, I would say you should choose between a letter from your employer or from your sensei. You can always write about the importance of martial arts in your Statement of Purpose and still get the same effect on the admission committee. I'd actually go with a letter from your sensei unless you have an impressive or related job!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA!

Terrible idea. Your statement of purpose is where this needs to be, not your LOR.

If you lack academic letters, go for another professional. It may seem "novel" to you, but your academics are what will stand you out from the crowd; one less LOR means one less opportunity for someone within your field to speak to your capabilities and highlight something your other LOR's missed. The graduate committee wants to know the opinions of others qualified to judge your preparedness for their program; unless your sensei can speak as an "authority" on your field of interest, it's not going to help you.

Edited by ANDS!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would agree with the above suggestions - an extra letter form your Khun Kru could be a really nifty addition to your application that would make you stand out, but I think it would be detrimental to your application to forgo an academic reference letter in favour of one from him.

Best of luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.