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Do all 3 LORs need to be really strong?


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I have one really really strong letter of recommendation from someone who is not only a professor, but also a Dean. This is someone who has known me for years and he told me that he doesn't want me to go the schools I'm applying to, and prefers that I stay at my current university. But he said he'll respect my choices and will put his thoughts in the letter. I'm sure he'll put me as "top 1%" on the form.

But my other 2 letters won't be as strong. They are merely from professors I have taken classes with and got the highest grade in the class. I'm sure the letter will still be decently strong, but probably not spectacular. They are probably the kind of letters all decent candidates will have. To me, they are just "fillers" in order to satisfy the 3 LOR requirements. They might put me in the "1%" category, but they also might put me at the "10%" category, who knows. 

I wonder if the fact that I have one very strong LOR might make a difference? Or does grad schools expect all 3 letters to be very strong? 

Edited by paulwece
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People definitely get in without having three strong letters. Usually a good goal is to have two strong ones, so you demonstrate that you've been able to establish successful relationships with more than just one person (=you're not a fluke) and they are very supportive. In that case, I've heard it said that having one just-ok letter won't hurt you. However, that doesn't always happen; sometimes you have one very strong and two less strong letters. From where you are standing now, I think there is just no point in worrying about it. You get the best letters that you can, and you work on the other parts of the application that you can control. I don't think it will lead to immediate rejection or anything remotely resembling near that. If you do end up with an outcome that is not as you had hoped for, then you will probably want to debrief and think about your application as a whole, and one aspect you might be able to improve is building a closer relationship with a second professor and obtaining a stronger letter. None of that is worth spending any time worrying about now, though! 

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