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newenglandshawn

Letters of Recommendation Process

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I'm curious about the LOR process in relation to the interaction with one's recommenders. For one application I've started filling out, there is a part that one has to check off if he/she chooses to waive the right to see his/her recommender's letter. What are the pros and cons of either waiving or not waiving your right?

 

Is it typical for an applicant to ask his/her recommender to share the letter for perusal? I'm assuming that most competitive applicants have a very intimate knowledge with the general tenor of the recommender's letter, otherwise he/she would not ask the person to write a recommendation. But does this mean that applicants actually read/proofread such letters?

 

Somewhat related to this question: I know there is no hard and fast rule and there is a lot of variability, but what is the typical length of a very strong recommendation? One page? Two pages? Ten pages? 

Edited by newenglandshawn

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You really ought to waive your right to view the letter. It would only hurt you if you did not. The appearance is that the letter writer was not given the freedom to speak openly about you or that there may be some distrust. Others may disagree and say that it does not matter, but that seems to be the consensus I have seen on these boards as well.

 

The best ways to assure that you'll have a good letter of recommendation is 1.) to make sure that your letter writer has gotten a chance to get to know you; and 2.) to ask your letter writer if he or she will be able to recommend you strongly. Many professors will write a letter for anybody at all, but will only write a strong recommendation for a few. At the beginning of the process, stress the competitiveness of the application process and ask whether the professor would strongly recommend you. You have to do this, of course, in a highly respectful and non-presumptuous way, but that goes without saying. Remind your professor of the grade you received in the class and give a writing sample (recent or from the class) to help the professor's memory.

 

Good luck!

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Thanks for the feedback.

 

Yeah, I have no concerns whatsoever about what my recommenders will write about me. They will all give me very strong recommendations. I know each of them very, very well - almost like family. So that is definitely no concern!

 

I just didn't know how close people generally work with their recommenders. I have no problem with waiving my right to read their letters. 

 

Thanks again for the reflections!

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Sometimes, letter writers may send a copy to their recommendation to the student afterwards. Though I did not request it of them, a couple of my letter writers sent theirs to me (whether for transparency or for safekeeping ... a lot of times, older professors are distrustful of the uploading process involved in online applications).

Edited by seroteamavi

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As long as you have formed a decent out-of-the-classroom relationship and performed well on your coursework, I would not worry about your letters in general. Actually, some advice one of my letter-writers gave me was to focus much more on SOPs and writing sample. By his logic, those are the only two pieces of the application that you - the student - composed for your case to be admitted. TIFWIW

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