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What do the referees generally want to help them write the LOR?


Asperfemme

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One of my recommenders asked me to send him my SOP to help him write the LOR. Is it a common practice to send the SOP to all of my referring profs, or should I wait for them to ask me to send the materials they might need?

 

My SOP contains semi-personal information that I have not disclosed in any shape or form to one of these profs, so I don't want to just send it around. Should I just contact them again and ask them what they need? I don't want to bother them too much, either.

Edited by Asperfemme
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Okay. I have had them write the SSHRC (graduate scholarship) references already, which are quite involved and extensive, so they have my CV from that.

 

I am not sure why one of the referees/recommenders wanted the SOP on top of that - perhaps because it expands on my experiences and my commitment to the field more in-depth?

 

So perhaps I should just assume they'll ask me if they need anything else from me before they complete a reference? I do want to make sure they have enough information to write me a good one. What makes it trickier is not knowing what exactly the recommendation letter templates are asking my recommenders, since the forms are all electronically sent directly to them.

Edited by Asperfemme
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Yes. You don't have to send your SOP unless they ask for it. CV is enough. I too don't know what they ask in the reference form. Try to find if there is template of reference from the university if they accept manual reference letters

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Only send your SOP if a letter writer asks for it.  I sent my CV and asked my letter writers if they needed anything else to help them writer their letter.  I had one recommender ask for my SOP but the other two only needed the CV.  I don't think sending your SOP unsolicited is necessary.

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I only sent my SOP when it was specifically requested. The person that requested it said that they wanted to make sure their letter mesh well with my SOP. That is, if I write about my experience in X and desire to do Y in grad school, they will be able to frame their letter to emphasize my previous success in X and my ability to succeed in Y. 

 

Later, when I applied to PhD programs, I knew this and so I just gave them a short paragraph summary of what I wanted to do in grad school. With this info (in addition to a CV, summary of transcript and a list of schools/deadlines), all my recommenders had everything they needed and no one asked for a SOP.

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I sent all my professors my SOP, mostly because I wanted their feedback on it and for them to know exactly what my research interests are. Also, with the SOP in front of them they could touch on important things (like how their classes/mentorship prepared me for future research and PhD work) that I did not include due to space restrictions. I included some personal information in it--nothing too specific, I think it's best to be somewhat vague about that kind of stuff so the essay doesn't dwell on the personal--but I wanted to see if any of them thought what I put in was inappropriate. I don't know what personal information you included in the SOP, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think it's a fairly safe rule that if you wouldn't want trusted profs to read it you probably shouldn't give it to the adcomms.

 

Maybe it differs by discipline, but I was told that the item to for sure give to professors is the SOP.

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I'm with the philosophy that the easier you make someone else's life to be, the easier (s)he will make your life to be.

 

I'd give each of the LoR writer a package that includes: (1) A cover letter, (2) A copy of my CV, (3) A copy of my SOP, (4) A copy of my transcript, (5) A list of the schools I'm applying to, with LoR deadline for each school.

 

The cover letter has a photo of me, and details of what I did in his/her class/lab, and of course a "thank you."  It also confirms his/her contact data that I input in the applications.

 

A professor has a lot of people asking her/him to write LoR, why not make it easier for her/him to do so for you?

Edited by pentaprism
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I'm with the philosophy that the easier you make someone else's life to be, the easier (s)he will make your life to be.

 

I'd give each of the LoR writer a package that includes: (1) A cover letter, (2) A copy of my CV, (3) A copy of my SOP, (4) A copy of my transcript, (5) A list of the schools I'm applying to, with LoR deadline for each school.

 

The cover letter has a photo of me, and details of what I did in his/her class/lab, and of course a "thank you."  It also confirms his/her contact data that I input in the applications.

 

A professor has a lot of people asking her/him to write LoR, why not make it easier for her/him to do so for you?

 

Bingo. This person gets it. 

 

I also included in my cover letter a short bullet-point list of things they may consider including in the letter with each list tailed to the specific professor and relationship I had with him. 

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What makes it trickier is not knowing what exactly the recommendation letter templates are asking my recommenders, since the forms are all electronically sent directly to them.

 

There's no template as far as I know -- just a space for them to write or upload a letter. Pretty open-ended. There may also be a set of questions asking them to rate you in terms of your ability to do independent research, your analytical skills, etc as compared to other students they've worked with.

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