Which recommender to choose?

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Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:41 am

Which recommender to choose?

Post by endboss » Thu Oct 01, 2015 2:58 pm

I have a difficult choice to make for my third recommender (Letters 1 & 2 are both from people that I've done research with and I think will write solid letters).

Recommender #1: I took a course from and got an A, and I have been working for them for a little less than a year. I think I have made a good impression during my work in their lab. I have not had this person write a letter for me before, but they have agreed to do so for my applications this season.

Recommender #2: I also took a course from and got an A, but I have not done research with them. However, I recommender #2 has written me a letter before, which I believe was very strong. Recommender #2 also has connections at at least two of the schools where I plan to apply.

So, I am debating between asking one of these people to write me a letter at the school where Recommender #2 has connections. Basically, I need to choose between a known strong letter with connections, but no research, and a letter of unknown strength but can say more to my research potential. Has anyone been in a similar predicament before? Which would you choose?

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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Which recommender to choose?

Post by astroprof » Thu Oct 01, 2015 6:04 pm

The answer is: BOTH.

Many schools will allow you to submit additional letters of recommendation. By asking 4 professors, you are more likely (statistically) to have at least 3 of those letters submitted by the application deadline. If all 4 arrive on time, then they all will be read by the admissions committee. The committee will thus be informed not only about your research capabilities, they will also have the benefit of the perspective of the professor who has previously provided a very strong recommendation for you.

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