Recs from non-professors

<p>Hi all,</p>

<p>I would like to apply to some of the top biomedical sciences programs such as stanford, yale, northwestern, chicago etc.</p>

<p>I am getting a rec:</p>

<p>1) from my current research advisor at my school (she has an excellent opinion of me), </p>

<p>2) from a genetics professor at my school (not sure how high she thinks of me, but im sure its quite positive), </p>

<p>3) from a former research advisor for a few months and I authored one paper under his guidance (published in a medical journal) and co-authored two more with him (submitted).</p>

<p>My (1) source is the PI but she did not really oversee my labwork. She asked a visiting scholar in the lab to be my secondary supervisor, who trained me in doing all the lab techniques such as cloning, PCR, etc. </p>

<p>Im thinking about asking this visiting scholar for a 4th letter. This visiting scholar, of course, being not a professor, has less credentials. But if I ask her to write a letter, she can really comment on my lab techniques (and after having been trained by her, I do everything in the lab very precisely.)</p>

<p>So should I bother asking the visiting scholar to write a 4th rec? Do schools frown upon extra recs, and do they frown upon recs not from professors?</p>

<p>It's always nice to have 4 letters. As long they hold a PhD, they're fine.</p>

<p>I have heard from a couple sources (profs at my school) that even if you have only 3 letters, you are fairly safe having one come from a non-prof, as long as the other two are from professors. After all, how would they handle people who have been in the workforce for a few years and may or may not have access to professors or other PhD holders?</p>

<p>Currently, I used two professors and my supervisor from work this past summer (who holds an MS, which I am nervous about) so hopefully that will work out fine... eek</p>

<p>If this visiting adjunct worked with you directly than he is probably in a good spot to evaluate your work and your ability to succeed as a grad student. I wouldn't stress out too much about this.</p>

<p>hmm this visiting scholar has an MSc. she is supposed to have a PhD long time ago but her PI disappeared off the face of the earth and she can't receive her degree.</p>

<p>her letter probably wont have a significant impact..but would it reduce my chance of success at all? she worked very closely with me in the lab and can comment on my work habit much better than my PI. she frequently trains other undergrads, grad students, and even postdocs in doing lab work.</p>

<p>Her letter will hold a different amount of weight depending on her position. Is she a lab tech (many career techs hold masters)? Does she have her own grants? How long has she been in research? </p>

<p>I don't think that an extra letter would hurt, especially given that this one would come from somebody who has more direct exposure to your work.</p>

<p>I have heard that the admissions process is very snobbish when it comes to letters of recommendation and that any non-professor rec's are considered worthless. I can't imagine it hurting you any, but from I've heard it probably won't help. It doesn't seem reasonable for that to be the case because, as boneh3ad said, it seems unfair to hold going to industry out of college against someone like that.</p>

<p>what about a retired professor? is that good? i did research work with him 2 years ago and i just discovered that he retired last year. apparently his title was 'Professor + Chief Physician'</p>

I have heard that the admissions process is very snobbish when it comes to letters of recommendation and that any non-professor rec's are considered worthless.


<p>What about scientists that work at a national lab? I'm considering getting letters from two scientists that I've worked with for the past two summers. They've had grad students write their thesis while working in their group so I would imagine that they are able to judge if anyone is adequate for grad level research. No?</p>

<p>Ideally, the faculty member who was supervising your work with the visiting scholar would have incorporated the thoughts and opinions of the visiting scholar. That's usually how it works--the PI, although not working with you directly, talks to everyone who worked with you. When I was in grad school, the PI was writing a letter for my lab tech so PI actually had me write a letter of rec for the tech and the PI then just adjusted my letter. Have you seen your PI's letter? Do you know that it doesn't include some of those personal details that you think the visiting scholar would add?</p>

<p>mudphudder. the PI knows me very very very well and she probably doesnt need input from the visiting scholar. </p>

<p>The visiting scholar, on the other hand, left my school several months ago and is now working at another school as a visiting scholar. I assume they have very limited contact with each other.</p>

<p>The reason non-faculty and/or non-PhD letters are given less weight is that they are less likely to be in a position to compare the aptitude and ability of the student to succeed in their post-doctorate career. The goal of the letter writer is to assess and convey whether the student has the ability and aptitude to be an independent research investigator able to identify important, feasible and relevant research problems.</p>

<p>What do you think about a letter from a job related supervisor(other than the field of study)? but certainly relevant to work ethic for the field?</p>

<p>Depends on your field, PK.</p>

<p>In my humanities field, such a letter would be useless. We want to know what your potential is as a researcher, not simply that you are a responsible employee.</p>

<p>Question that I couldnt find addressed anywhere else:</p>

<p>I have been an active participant (letter winner + conference awards) in a nationally competitive football team. Is this something worth mentioning at all on an application? I know it does not directly relate to science or aptitute in research down the road; however, I do feel it can be important to demonstrate time management, cooperation with others, etc. I would like to mention it in part of my SoP because it is an integral part of who I am and what I have accomplished (also part of why I wasn't able to accomplish some things as well.)</p>

<p>What about having my college coach (nationally recognized coach of the year a few times) writing a 4th letter for me, or possibly even just my third. Though he isn't active in the science community, he is well worded, thinks highly of me, and would be a great advocate of my work ethic and other qualities since he is around me daily.</p>

<p>Any input and comments are welcome, thank you.</p>

<p>(PS. I know this is done often.....but just curious how my numbers would hold up in an application- 3.7 GPA with 1200 GRE (730Q + 470 V) + 5 AWA. Will contain strong letters of recommendation. I'm applying for ChemPhD).</p>

<p>No need to comment on the last part though. More curious aobut that last letter of rec and my SOP, thanks!</p>


<p>Unless you are applying to a research program that has to do with sports in some way, your football experience has no place in an SOP. An SOP has to do with your academic background, and your future research plans.</p>

<p>Your coach is not an appropriate letter writer.</p>

<p>Thank you very mucy Professor X.</p>

<p>I wasn't quite sure, to be honest. I didn't want it to be the focal point of my statement but thought it might be worth mentioning. Thank you for telling me otherwise, ha.</p>

<p>Off topic: My teachers just finished my recommendations for my three schools I am finishing applications for. All of them were printed off by the professor and placed in pre-adressed envelopes. My schools did not say whether they would like them sent from the professor directly or sealed, given to me, and sent in with the rest of my application (Statement, etc).</p>

<p>Any input on the best way? I thought maybe the best way is to have all information together.</p>