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Will the Professor write me a LOR


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Hi friends,

I have been working in a lab during my undergrad. I have good relationships and publications with the grad students. The professor seems to like me because I work very hard and have a passion for the project (He gets to know me mostly from the grads though.) My problem is that I got 3 grades of C in my transcript. One of them was due to a super difficult class & prof (~5 B were given for that class by thr prof.) The professor knew about this grade when I applied to the lab (he was unhappy, but somehow he agreed to let me work in his lab.) Unfortunately, I performed poorly in the next semester and got the other two C. The professor does not know about them. Worse, everytime he asked me about my studying I said it was good and tried to be a smart student. However, my overall gpa is good (~3.6ish) for a highly ranked engineering program. 

I am worried that he would not write me a rec letter for my phd applications. I dont want to tell him now because I love working in his lab. Do you think he will give me a LOR? What do you think I should do? 

Thank you very much. I greatly appreciate your comments

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3 C's on your transcript really shouldn't be stopping anyone from supporting you... so long as the rest of your work is good. How are your grades going this semester? Were the C's in really important core classes? 

My undergrad research advisor never once asked me about grades that I made in classes other than his own.  It sounds as though your relationship with your research advisor is rather awkward, and that you are intimidated by him. Whereas, my research advisor... despite being my superior, treated me as an adult and pseudo-peer. I was never at any point too intimidated to tell him of any of my shortcomings. 

I think you should not only ask him for a letter, but also ask him for advice. This would be a good time for you to present all of your materials... including your transcript and your c.v., along with general research ideas and where you want to go. You don't have to explicitly mention your grades... 

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The LOR is going to be about what he can recommend you for-- i.e., the work you've done with him.  It is also typical for recommenders to get a CV of their subject so they can sound intelligent about the rest of your life.  But the main thing is that this person likes you and the work you've done in his lab.

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Two things: 

First, a LOR is meant to go beyond grades. A professor is not supposed to use your GPA as a talking point in your LOR. However, he/she may mention how well you did in a class for which he/she was your professor. In general, a LOR should focus mainly on how you work in the lab, what you are like as a person, how you interact with other lab members, what you contribute to the lab as a whole, and how likely you are to succeed as a graduate student (grades aside). 

Second, if a professor is anything less than ecstatic about writing a LOR for you, it's not a good fit. I would avoid risking the possibility of a bad LOR if the professor is hesitant when you ask him/her to write one. This rule is only invalid if you have worked with the professor for over a year, in which case you are nearly required to have a LOR from him/her. 

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The grades themselves usually shouldn't be a problem. He should write about his experience teaching you and having you in his lab; the grades sound like they are from unrelated classes, and not something he has any reason to write about in the first place. He may be disappointed by them, but hopefully he would still have a high opinion of you and agree to write a positive letter. This is something you'll have to gauge when you ask him -- is he enthusiastic or reluctant? I'd imagine that even with the lower grades, if you've been doing well in his lab, he should still be able to support your application. That said, if he discovers that you are lying or hiding information from him, that might be a different story. I would suggest not doing anything that would be construed as misleading, because that definitely will color his opinion of you, and not in a good way. 

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Thank you very much for great advice. I greatly appreciate them. They make me feel relieved :). I will be more honest to him.

@fuzzylogician  It's just when he asked stuffs like "How are classes / semester?", I answered like "they are good/ok". I don't think I am lying or hiding information from him, but I should be more careful not to cross the line.

@sjoh19You got it right. I do feel intimidated by him. The Prof. is very distinguished and "special". He can exert a strong pressure (probably like the Force in Star Wars :lol:) on you when you are having a conversation with him.

 

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