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LOR question (Professor not exactly my future major)


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I've been told that the only two big rules regarding letters are: 1) make sure they'll be damn good, and 2) make sure they're about your academic work. Based on this, I think the second of the two professors you mention should be just fine, and even advantageous.

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I completely agree. Generally speaking they care that the person is an academic (regardless of field). Especially since your other two recs are in your area, if this person is slightly tangential it will probably be ok. The fact that this individual knows you well and can give a substantial letter is more important.

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I don't know if this will help. But my three recs were 1) my academic advisor 2) a professor I did research with 3) a professor completely out of my discipline who knew I write well.

I agree, make sure they are good. This can be done by asking the following: Can you write me a good recommendation? Emphasis on the good part.

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Option 2, but if for some reason you feel like the letter from the first professor could also be exceptional you should feel free to ask for one from that professor as well.


1) You have a backup if someone falls through. (It happens, one of my letter writers submitted my letter extremely late, I would have had an incomplete app most places during their review window had I not had a fourth reference.)

2) For the schools that really seem like they'd get annoyed at more than three letters, you can figure out which faculty members know which other faculty and send the three most appropriate to the adcom. :-P

3) For most schools they won't mind one additional letter as long as it's only one of them. (Be careful though, I am not in you field so this could be completely wrong, it may be that in fact in your field adcoms really do mind additional letters.)

But don't do four letters unless you feel like they're all going to be really good. Your letter writers should all be enthusiastic to write a letter for you when you bring it up.

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