Shredder

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If you have a teacher you want a rec from to give your recs a better balance, but the class is so easy that you never have any questions to ask or discuss, how should you get to know him? Is it okay to tell him directly that you want a rec later on and want to get to know him over the next few months for that reason? But also show some genuine interest in the subject and teacher's background, I just mean don't fake like you have no ulterior motive and then pop the question all of a sudden one day. I did this once with a prof for a summer program rec and never talked to him again, I felt kind of bad. Oh well, I got into the program.

A more straightforward question--how many recs is a good number for top 10 schools? Does anyone know this from personal experience?
 

Uegis

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I truly believe the quailty of your letter is more important than the number. I *only* had 4 letters and a committee letter, but they are all very strong ones from people that knew me well. General rule of thumb is have 2 science letters, one non-science course letter, and individual ones from whoever you did significant volunteer/research experience with, like one from a PI you worked for and one from the attending at the clinic you worked at (these are the two I used). Some schools tell you not to send more than five letters. So five is a good number, but if you have stronger ones, then might as well get those too.

And the part about getting the letters, get to know them, then YOU decide if you want them to write you one. It's more about what you feel their impression is of you and then deciding whether the person will write you a good one. In 3-4 years, u will encounter plenty of professors. Go to the ones that are easy-going and available to students (being reputable is good too). For other letters, I think once you start dedicating yourself to what you are doing in terms of volunteering, etc, people will notice you and you then could ask them. It's not being shady at all.
 

patzan

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Shredder said:
If you have a teacher you want a rec from to give your recs a better balance, but the class is so easy that you never have any questions to ask or discuss, how should you get to know him? Is it okay to tell him directly that you want a rec later on and want to get to know him over the next few months for that reason? But also show some genuine interest in the subject and teacher's background, I just mean don't fake like you have no ulterior motive and then pop the question all of a sudden one day. I did this once with a prof for a summer program rec and never talked to him again, I felt kind of bad. Oh well, I got into the program.

A more straightforward question--how many recs is a good number for top 10 schools? Does anyone know this from personal experience?
I have tried it both ways, unfortunately. The way to go in an easy class is to talk to the teacher early in the semester and let them know that you would possibly like them to write you a letter later on and to keep an eye on you throughout the semester. Then visit them during office hours and talk about other, more complex stuff if their class is too simple for you. Do well, participate in class...come up with insightful questions. Most classes are interesting if you give them a chance and get a little more involved than you normally would.